APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Alcaraz looks on the bright side in Madrid

Every time Carlos Alcaraz lifts a finger in the Caja Mágica there is a hive of activity. The Spaniard, who won the last two editions of the Mutua Madrid Open, is being welcomed with enormous affection by the fans who pack out the court every time he practises. After missing the start of the clay swing through injury, the Murcia native has the Spanish capital pegged as the possible site of his return to competition. The news is enough to have created a huge commotion around the world No. 3.

“There are still a few days until my first match and today I practised with more intensity”, explained Alcaraz, who is trying to shake off an injury to the pronator in his right arm, which brought his 2024 season to a grinding halt. “Things have gone well and I’m feeling good. I don’t want to say I’m 100% playing because I don’t want to make assumptions. Right now, with my mentality, I’d be happy to play three or four matches here”.

At a venue where he already has a very special record, Alcaraz has reached two conclusions deep in the entrails of the Caja Mágica. First, a player carrying an injury should step carefully. Second, that the adrenaline of competition, the lifeblood of his quest for sporting history, will make up for the wait he is currently enduring.

“I love competing and every time I lose a competition it hurts”, explained the Murcia native, who has not played a match on tour for 25 days; an age for a player in his prime. “Staying at home to recover is a tough feeling for me. Monte Carlo and Barcelona are two amazing tournaments, it particularly hurt to miss the latter. But I’m someone who always looks on the positive side of things and tries to turn them around. When I decided not to go to Barcelona, I started to work hard on my recovery to see if I could get ready for Madrid. I’m excited to get back on court, to play my first official match since Miami. I can’t wait.

The Spanish capital is a city of dreams. On the clay of the Manolo Santana Stadium, on his 18th birthday, Alcaraz played his first match against Rafael Nadal. This year, both players are in the midst of a comeback, and Carlos is not letting logic get in the way of his hopes and desires.

“We can imagine lots of things”, said the Murcia native, smiling. “It would be great to play a final with Rafa in Madrid. A lot of people would want to see that match, so hopefully it happens. But tennis is a complicated game, you can feel different from day to day, every match is unique, and you can never take anything for granted. There is no doubt that he will fight hard in every match, and he would love to be in another final in Madrid. I’m going to try and be at 100% and play well to try and reach that final”.

Although momentum will not be on the Murcia native’s side as it has in previous years, he is still eyeing up the record books. His chance of claiming a third title on the trot in Madrid, an unprecedented achievement in the history of the tournament, is the talking point in every corner of the Caja Mágica. Carlos is more than aware of the situation.

“I’m not a person who looks ahead, but with this final I can’t help it. Once I’ve seen it I try not to pay much attention to it, so it doesn’t stay in my head. There are really amazing things that I could manage to do. Having my name as the first to do it would be special. But we’re trying not to think about it and taking it day by day”.

In the ever-changing world of tennis, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas are currently spearheading the ATP Tour. The Norwegian and Greek crossed paths in the finals of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, each taking home one of the first big trophies of the European clay swing. They are sure to be riding a wave of confidence into Madrid.

“They’re both playing very well. They’re in great form after two big finals on clay. They’re feeling confident and that’s the most important thing to me, being sure that you’re going to play at a good level. But Sinner is also playing great and there are players that can give you trouble, even more so in Madrid with the altitude. You have to know how to adapt. Those two and Sinner are now the players to beat on clay”.