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Carlos Alcaraz: The Bull Will Bellow Again

Carlos Alcaraz at the French Open

From the moment he hoisted the Gentlemen’s singles trophy for the first time – his second Grand Slam title, Carlos Alcaraz effectively entered the league of elite sportsmen who were subject to a standard of perfection and had to play to achieve it, consistently.

On that indelible 16th day of July 2023, the Spaniard launched himself into superstardom at the most fitting venue and against the most fitting opponent. It took him exactly 4 hours and 42 minutes (the third longest final in history) to finally open the gates to immortality as he defeated the indefatigable Novak Djokovic, a man who had simply closed the gates to anyone attempting to covet his title over the previous 4 years.

Alcaraz had won the US Open about a year before to become the youngest world No. 1 in the Open Era to announce himself to the world. It was the deserving climax to a sensational year where he won several ATP titles and became the first and only player to defeat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic back to back on clay.

Barren Run for Alcaraz

Surprisingly, since his Wimbledon triumph, Alcaraz hasn’t managed to add to his repertoire of laurels. As the season switched from grass to hard courts in preparation for the US Open, he arrived in the North American swing as the sport’s poster boy. However, he was stopped in the quarterfinal at Toronto by Tommy Paul before Novak Djokovic exerted revenge by defeating him in Cincinnati a week later.

The defense of his US Open title ended at the penultimate stage against Danill Medvedev, and it was also at the same stage Jannik Sinner ended his participation at the Beijing ATP. Moving to Shanghai didn’t change his fortunes as Grigor Dimitrov defeated him in the 4th round, followed by losses to Roman Safiullin at the indoor event in Paris and Alexander Zverev in the first match of the season-ending tournament in Turin. He was eventually ousted from the ATP Finals by Djokovic in the semis in what will be his final match of the season, ending the year ranked No. 2 in the world.

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Rocky 2024 Season

This season kicked off Down Under, and Alcaraz made it to the quarterfinal stage, eventually succumbing to Alexander Zverev for the fifth time in his career. The dirt of South America was next, and despite two dominant wins in Buenos Aires, he was defeated in the semi-final by Nicolas Jarry in straight sets.

Alcaraz arrived in Rio with cosmic confidence; after all, it was here he made his debut on the main tour in 2020 and played in the last two finals, winning the title in 2022. However, playing for just the second point in the match against local boy Thiago Monteiro, Alcaraz unfortunately injured his ankle. He attempted to continue but had to retire after just two games.

Luckily, the setback isn’t as serious as it appeared. Hopefully, he’ll be back in time to defend his title and 1000 ranking points at the Indian Well Masters, as well as his Pepperstone ranking from a surging Jannik Sinner. More importantly, Alcaraz will have his sights set on the Madrid Open and Roland Garros.

While he now claims hard courts as his favorite surface, Alcaraz has won more titles on clay, including the last two Masters 1000 events in Madrid. He’ll certainly be looking at capturing his first Coupe de Mousquetaires as he continues his quest to be only the ninth man to win the Career Grand Slam.

The young Spaniard often motivates himself on court by bellowing “I’m a Bull”. The world is waiting to hear it again.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane – USA TODAY Sports


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