What were you doing aged 20?
If your name’s Carlos Alcaraz, then tick the box saying semi-finals of Wimbledon. At 3:30pm on Friday, the Spanish prodigy and world No.1 will step out on Centre Court at SW19 for the chance to reach this year’s men’s singles final, having spectacularly bested Holger Rune in the quarters.
He faces Russian ace Daniil Medvedev, the man who knocked Alcaraz out in the second round during his first Wimbledon campaign in 2021. For the winner, a hotly-anticipated clash with Italian starlet Jannik Sinner or legendary reigning champion Novak Djokovic awaits on Sunday.
Should Alcaraz continue his meteoric rise all the way to the final, then the casual tennis fan might be left asking: “Who’s he?” Fortunately, Mirror Sport has them covered.
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The making of ‘the Spanish bull’
Born on May 5, 2003 in the village of El Palmar down the coast from popular holiday destination Alicante, Alcaraz began playing at a local club which his father was the academy director of. His dad, also called Carlos and who he still lives with in a two-floor penthouse flat, used to run an estate agency as his day job, while mum Virginia was an assistant at IKEA until recently.
Alcaraz was backed financially by the president of Spanish cake and yoghurt giant Postres Reina, Alfonso Lopez Rueda. His funding allowed the then 10-year-old to travel to a junior tournament in Croatia, where he lost in the final, but Postres Reina continued to fund him until he turned professional, sporting their logo on his sleeve.
Idolising the great Roger Federer, Alcaraz burst onto the ATP scene in 2020 by making his debut at the tender age of 16 at the Rio Open in Brazil after receiving a wildcard for the men’s singles main draw. Ultimately being defeated in the second round, there was no doubting that the teenage sensation would be back once tennis returned after the coronavirus pandemic.
Carlos Alacaraz has been the world No.1 for nearly a year, despite only being 20
Carlos Alacaraz has been the world No.1 for nearly a year, despite only being 20 ( Image: Edu Botella/Europa Press via Getty Images)
His journey so far
Alcaraz did exactly that post-Covid, earning a place in the Australian Open and reaching the third round before becoming the youngest ever match-winner at the Madrid Open aged 17, breaking a record set by none other than fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal. Later that year, Alcaraz was beaten by Medvedev at Wimbledon and in 2022 he was defeated by Sinner – Italy’s next big thing – in a youthful round four clash.
But last year was still a historic one for the rising star, who earned the nickname ‘the Spanish bull’, winning his first major at the US Open. By defeating fifth seed Casper Ruud in the final, Alcaraz also became the youngest No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings at the age of 19 years, four months and six days, then going on to become the first teenager to ever end a calendar year as world No.1.
2023 brought his 10th overall title and a run to the French open semi-final – in which Djokovic beat him over four sets – but Alcaraz warmed up for Wimbledon with victory at Queen’s to show his improvements on grass courts. So far, the 20-year-old has beaten Danish wonderkid Rune and world No.6 Matteo Berrettini along his way to the last four, and it hasn’t been quiet ride.
Victory at the US Open last September marked his first major
Victory at the US Open last September marked his first major ( Image: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Although you might see Wimbledon on the TV and enjoy its serene atmosphere, there’s still plenty of needle between players and rivalries constantly emerge. This week – ahead of potentially facing Djokovic in the final – Alcaraz found himself at the centre of controversy, as Serbian news outlet b92 reported that his dad had filmed Djokovic’s behind-closed-doors training session on a nearby practice court.
Alcaraz admittedly that the story was “probably true” but insisted that it won’t give him an advantage should the pair face one another in Sunday’s final. “My father is a huge fan of tennis and he doesn’t only watch my matches,” the Spaniard explained.
“I think he gets into the club at 10am and leaves at 11pm watching matches and practice and being able to watch Djokovic in real life it is probably true he was filming the sessions.”