Into the final at the Mutua Madrid Open for a second straight year, Carlos Alcaraz is one step away from defending his title at the Caja Magica.
Carrying a 10-match winning streak into the final – both for the season and in Madrid – Alcaraz is keen to put on a show once again for his home crowd.
Before tuning into Sunday’s showpiece, here are a few things to know about the Spanish phenom…
He’s a history-maker
When Alcaraz defeated Casper Ruud in the US Open final last September at 19 years of age, he became the youngest US Open men’s champion since Pete Sampras in 1990, and rose to the top of the rankings to become the youngest – and first teen – world No.1 in ATP rankings history (since 1973).
“It’s crazy for me. I’ve never thought that I was going to achieve something like that at 19 years old. So everything is came so fast. For me it’s unbelievable. It’s something I dream since I was a kid, since I start playing tennis,” Alcaraz told reporters in New York after the US Open final.
His ‘complete’ game has everyone talking
Former world No.1 Andy Roddick recently described Alcaraz on Tennis Channel as “the most complete 19-year-old male tennis player that I’ve ever seen”.
American 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert told Eurosport she is “in awe” and is “flabbergasted” when watching Alcaraz.
“I don’t know how he can improve anymore. The beauty of his game is that he has no weaknesses whatsoever for any of his opponents to have a chance unless he’s having a bad day,” said Evert.
“I want to say he is the epitome of what an athlete should be, with the qualities, and the toolset. He was born to be a champion. He was born to be brilliant in the field of tennis, and he’s got the tool-set as well as the championship intangible qualities like focus, hunger and passion.”
World No.1 Novak Djokovic said in Belgrade in February that Alcaraz “brings a fresh energy to tennis, with a very striking game and personality. He deserved to be No.1 and win a Grand Slam, I only have praise for him as a person, but also as a tennis player since he doesn’t have many flaws, he can play equally well on all surfaces.”
Indeed Alcaraz has proven to be a multi-surface threat and has shown explosive abilities off both forehand and backhand wings, while creatively using the drop shot to torture his opponents.
His physicality on a tennis court is also incredible, and he showed great stamina en route to the US Open title last year.
To win the title in New York, Alcaraz spent a total of 24 hours on court through his seven matches, the most played by any man, at any slam, since tennis started keeping track of the time in 1999.
He is highly ambitious
With an already impressive resume at such a young age, Alcaraz is open about his hopes and dreams in the sport.
“My dream on tennis right now is to become one of the best tennis players in history,” he said in Madrid this week.
“I know that this is a big dream, probably is too big. But in this world, you have to dream big and you have to think big, as well. I want to be part of the best tennis players in history and I will work for it.”
He has some mind-blowing stats
Alcaraz will be contesting his fifth final of the season on Sunday; a remarkable feat considering he has only played six tournaments this year so far. He made the semi-finals or better in all six events he has played since returning from injury in February.
The Murcian has won his last 20 consecutive clay-court matches on Spanish soil, having not tasted a home defeat on the surface since he lost to Rafael Nadal on his 18th birthday in the Madrid second round two years ago.
Already a Grand Slam champion and a three-time Masters 1000 winner, Alcaraz will be going for a 10th career title on Sunday and he will fancy his chances given his 9-3 win-loss record in finals.
When he beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in his last three rounds in Madrid last season, Alcaraz became the first player to defeat both Nadal and Djokovic at the same clay-court event, and the first since 2007 to beat three top-four players at a single Masters 1000 tournament.
He’s a global star with a love for simple things
Last year, Alcaraz was named as one of five athletes – and only tennis player – selected to be part of Time magazine’s 100 Next list.
He’s been on the cover of Men’s Health and Vanity Fair, has been featured in GQ and Vogue, and his face can be seen on billboards around the world.
In an interview with Vogue this year, he spoke about his love for chess, his “simple” fashion sense, and being a sneakerhead.
“There are people who only wear top brands, but I haven’t stopped to look at those. I dress very simply,” said Alcaraz, who added that he likes to collect vintage Nike sneakers.
“They’re exclusive, or hard to find. And that’s the kind of thing I buy, if I like them. There are some Jordans, some Dunk Lows, some that Travis Scott has released. I want to have a great collection —that’s my aim, anyway. I have about 20 now.”