Carlos Alcaraz may have been a dominant force on the ATP Tour in 2022, but that doesn’t mean the 19-year-old is afraid to seek help from his fellow players when needed.
The Spaniard will face Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round at Wimbledon on Monday. As he prepares for the second grass-court tournament of his career, Alcaraz admitted he was happy to learn from others to make up for his relative inexperience on the surface.
“Of course. I try to watch the training of the best players,” Alcaraz said in his pre-tournament press conference on Sunday, shortly after striking with Britain’s No. 2 Daniel Evans. think he [Evans] plays great on grass. I try to copy some things from the best [players].
“I always watch videos of [Roger] Federer, [Novak] Djokovic, Rafa [Nadal]Andy [Murray] as well. I try to copy moves and stuff from them.
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As a fellow Spaniard who also grew up playing mostly on clay, two-time champion Nadal is a particularly strong example for Alcaraz. The 19-year-old believes Nadal’s success on grass is an obvious example to follow.
“[Rafa has won] so many grass-court tournaments,” Alcaraz said. “[He] won twice here at Wimbledon. You think you are able to adapt your game to the grass pitch.
Alcaraz has certainly proven he is a quick learner on the Tour in 2022. Starting the year at No. 32 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings, he won trophies in Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Barcelona and Madrid in the first half of the season , and in April became the youngest player to crack the Top 10 since Nadal in 2005. Still, Alcaraz admits grass represents a different proposition, especially after an elbow problem kept him out of action at Queen’s Club two weeks ago.
“I always say it’s not easy to play on grass, and I couldn’t play a tournament before Wimbledon, so this week is going to be tough for me,” he said. “But I’m preparing… Now I’m serving the slice a bit more and not the kick, but it also bounces well when I hit the kick. [But] I’m not playing the kick as much as I would like here.
“The hardest thing on grass is moving. I would say playing aggressive, trying to get to the net, that’s the best part of my game that translates [from] other surfaces to this one…I would say I have a game that will adapt well on grass.
After reaching the second round on his tournament debut in 2021, when he fell to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets, the historic surroundings of Wimbledon are no longer unfamiliar to Alcaraz. The experience of grass-court competition in south-west London still excites the young Spaniard, and the prospect of playing a first match on center court only serves as further motivation.
“Wimbledon is for me one of the most beautiful tournaments in the world,” said Alcaraz, whose first-round match against Struff is scheduled on Court 1 on Monday. “Center court is amazing to me. [There have] been great matches, historic matches, on this ground.
“I remember watching a lot of games on center court since the beginning of everything, since I was a child. For me, it means a lot to be able to play in this tournament. I will try to pass rounds to be able to play on center court.