Mats Wilander has said that Carlos Alcaraz shouldn’t be compared to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. The former player added that Alcaraz is a unique and inspirational player in his own right.
The 19-year-old is coming off a dream 2022 campaign, climbing 32 places to end the season as the first teenage year-end World No. 1. That’s the biggest jump any player has had in a season to climb to No. 1, which Alcaraz accomplished by winning the US Open two months ago.
His early success has sparked inevitable comparisons with tennis’ big three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. However, Wilander opines that Alcaraz is unique in his own right and his 2022 campaign was the stuff dreams are made of.
In an interaction with Eurosport, the Swede said:
“I think it will be really hard to digest 2022 for Alcaraz. But I also think (coach) Juan Carlos Ferrero is going to know exactly what they need to do. I think that there’s a validation process that has to happen for Carlos. ‘Am I really No. 1 in the world?’ “I mean, ‘what you’re putting me as No. 1 as a 19 year old?'”
Wilander added that Alcaraz need not be considered the best player, but it’s heartening and inspiring to see his success and to watch him play with a smile.
“He doesn’t have to be considered the greatest player, but one thing is for sure: it is fun as hell to watch him play tennis when he’s that good and he’s laughing at the same time. He’s the most inspirational tennis player that we have because of what he did in 2022 and most of all because of the way he did it. Never compare him to Rafa, Roger and Novak, the way he did it I’ve never seen anything like it,” the Swede expressed.
Alcaraz went 57-13 in 2022, winning a joint tour-leading five titles, including a Grand Slam and two Masters 1000s.
“He’s just happy playing tennis” – Mats Wilander on Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz’s love for the sport is evident in his uncomplicated style of play. The teenager aspires to be the best player in the sport and doesn’t overburden himself with too many expectations.
At the US Open this year, he beat Casper Ruud to become the first teenager in three decades – second overall – to become the World No. 1. Despite missing the year-end ATP Finals in Turin because of an abdominal tear, Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas’ early exits confirmed Alcaraz as the year-end No. 1.
“When I hear Carlos Alcaraz talk about tennis and the way I see him play, it is that simple,” said Wilander, adding, “He’s just happy playing tennis, and he says ‘I want to be No. 1 in the world. No strings attached, no nothing. It’s no mind games and nothing. It’s just what I feel’.”
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