By Reem Abulleil
The Carlos Alcaraz Show is set to hit Madrid with the ever-popular teen phenom looking to extend his impressive run of consecutive victories on home soil.
After successfully defending a title for the first time by lifting the trophy in Barcelona on Sunday, Alcaraz has now won his last 15 matches played at Spanish ATP tournaments – a stretch that also includes title triumphs in Barcelona and Madrid in 2022.
The reigning Mutua Madrid Open champion has been close to unstoppable so far this season, walking away with the winner’s trophy at three of the five events he has contested.
With a 23-2 win-loss record tallied up in 2023, Alcaraz will be seeking a 10th career title when he hits the courts at the Caja Mágica this fortnight in the Spanish capital.
A fourth victory in four meetings with Stefanos Tsitsipas earned Alcaraz trophy No.9 on Sunday as the 19-year-old dazzled the home crowd with a 6-3, 6-4 performance. The Murcian clocked 26 winners in the final, 19 of which came off of his devastating forehand side.
“Take it easy, hermano, take it easy. Sharing is caring,” joked Tsitsipas during the trophy ceremony, after losing to Alcaraz in Barcelona for a second straight year.
“I think it’s fair enough to say that we see you as an example, even though we’re slightly older than you, we see your achievements as something that will hopefully push us to do better,” the gracious Greek continued.
After becoming the youngest ATP world No.1 in history on the back of his maiden Grand Slam success at the US Open last year, Alcaraz sustained an abdominal injury that ruled him out of the season-ending championships in November and a right leg problem that delayed his start to the 2023 season and forced him out of the Australian Open.
Since his return to action mid-February, he has reigned supreme in Buenos Aires, Indian Wells and Barcelona, placed runner-up in Rio de Janeiro, and reached the semi-finals in Miami.
In Barcelona this week, he put together one dominant victory after the other, lifting the trophy without dropping a set and producing unthinkable winners at will.
Against Tsitsipas, Alcaraz utilised all of his weapons to the fullest – from effective first serves, to punishing returns, to his signature drop shots and cunning lobs… everything was on display and the world No.2 was clearly enjoying it. Before stepping to the baseline to serve for the championship, Alcaraz sat on his bench grinning and fist pumping. Two games earlier, he was swaying his head as ‘Sweet Caroline’ blasted through the stadium speakers.
“This is something that we were talking about with my team before the match; to stay relaxed, to want to play the tough moments, that’s the most important part for me – to stay relaxed, to forget the mistakes, and just be myself on the court. Trying to not think about all the people who are watching, just me, the court, the racquet and the final,” Alcaraz told Tennis TV after the final.
The strategy has clearly worked and he will be hoping for more of the same when he arrives in Madrid – the site of one of his greatest triumphs so far in his young career.
Last year, Alcaraz stormed to the Mutua Madrid Open title by defeating Alexander Zverev, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in his final three rounds.
It made him the first player to ever hand losses to both Nadal and Djokovic at the same clay-court tournament and the first since 2007 to beat three top-four opponents at a Masters 1000 event.
His matches at the Caja Mágica were the hottest ticket in town as celebrities, star athletes and capacity crowds flocked to the venue to catch a glimpse of Alcaraz in action.
With momentum on his side and yet another trophy under his belt, all eyes will once again be on Carlitos in Madrid this upcoming fortnight.