APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Learning from adversity

Carlos Alcaraz is in round four of the Mutua Madrid Open, having today passed what he called a “litmus test”. It was a day for finding out where he is, both in terms of his fitness and his tennis, in an examination that the Murcia native passed with flying colours, seeing off the Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild with a decisive 6-3 6-3.

Carlos loves playing in Madrid, despite the fact that the conditions are somewhat unusual on the tour. However, one of his many virtues is that he can adapt so quickly to new situations. “Honestly, I don’t find changes that difficult, obviously it’s difficult to adapt to conditions from one day to the next, but in terms of Madrid, I don’t find it hard to come here and adapt to the conditions here. I think my game’s a good match for the altitude here in Madrid and I feel really comfortable”.

Carlos is not usually one to play down expectations or slow himself down when on court, but at this point prudence is a virtue for the Spaniard. Step by step. Despite being in very different situations, both Rafa and Carlos are taking things one day at a time. There is no hurry. Carlos is in an optimistic mood, but part of him remains realistic. “Today I said that it’s a litmus test because of Thiago’s style. He’s a player that hits the ball very hard, with a good serve. I didn’t know how my forearm would handle it, but it was really great. Physically I feel really good on court, I’m moving well, my forearm isn’t bothering me, so physically I think we’re improving”.

However, the world No. 3’s more cautious side then became evident. “I still don’t trust my forearm completely, I’m still thinking about it. I wouldn’t say I’m hesitant, but the problem with my forearm is still on my mind. I love competing. Once I’m on court I try to do as well as possible, but every time I push it, every time I hit a forehand that’s more aggressive than I have been doing, I start to think about how my forearm might react”.

Carlos’ current state of mind is to be expected. He is happy with the improvements he has made, while remaining cautious about what is still to come. His maturity in these circumstances, however, is perhaps more surprising. He is a young kid who loves to play at a thousand miles per hour. In his current situation, though, he has shown that he is capable of taking his medicine when required. “In the end, we’re all used to seeing me, myself included, hit my forehand at 200%, harder and harder. Juanki (Ferrero) often tells me there’s no need, I just need to relax and let go, which is how I’m playing now. So maybe it’s not 100% like my normal forehand, but it’s close to 100% but in a different way. So right now I’m very happy with the way I’m playing. I’m hitting my forehand early, relaxed and trying to time it well, that’s what we’ve been working on for a long time”.

Regarding his match in the last sixteen, Carlos analysed his opponent there, Jan Lennard-Struff. Their encounter will be a rematch of last year’s final. “He makes you uncomfortable, he has a great serve, he serve volleys, good shots from the baseline. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m very happy about the level I’m playing at. I know that at this level I can do great things, although it’s not my priority right now. But I know that playing at this level I’ll create opportunities to try and win the match, to have chances, but I know that I’m going to have to play at a good level, try and make him uncomfortable and see how the match goes”.

Finally, Carlitos had time to heap praise on the current world No. 2 and the 1st seed in Madrid. “Sinner’s first round was impressive and yes, of course I see him as the favourite to win every tournament he plays in. I try to play my best tennis, I try not to let him win more titles, but I don’t achieve that. But it’s difficult right now, if Jannik continues to play at this level, as I said he’s the favourite at every tournament he plays”.