Carlos Alcaraz is “going to set the base platform” for the next generation of players and could be the dominant force in men’s tennis for years to come, according to doubles great Todd Woodbridge.
The 18-year-old Spaniard has been on the rise over the past few years as he won his maiden title at the ATP 250 Croatia Open in July last year and followed it up with a run to the US Open quarter-final.
He won title No 2, the ATP 500 Rio Open, in February and backed it up with his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title at the Miami Open on Sunday, defeating Casper Ruud in the final.
The Spaniard is the youngest player to win the Miami Open while he is also the third youngest behind Michael Chang and Rafael Nadal to win a Masters 1000 title, climbing to a career-high of No 11 in the ATP Rankings on the back of the result.
Alcaraz is far from the first rising star to put their hand up and follow in the footsteps of the Big Three of Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but 16-times men’s doubles Grand Slam champion Woodbridge feels he is the real deal.
“He definitely has an X-factor, but his timing couldn’t be better,” the Australian told ausopen.com.
“There have been some great young players who came through when you had Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at their best. So you had three game styles, and you had to beat all three to get to the top. Whereas now, there isn’t as much to have to worry about with the top talent – both his peer group, the generation above, and then the Big Three who have dominated.
“Alcaraz now has this window to be able to build his game, to be the dominant player. At 18, he’s still maturing, he’s still going to grow his game. Technically he’s sound, he’s going to get stronger.
“He has a period of time now to be able to make his game style the best and the hardest to beat, and he’s going to set the base platform of what this next generation of players is going to be playing like.”
Woodbridge says this is “rarefied air” that Alcaraz has stepped into and is convinced the youngster is unlikely to suffer the fate of other rising stars.
“It’s his ability to keep winning. He’s 18-2 for the season. It is winning a Masters title. But it’s not just one result – it’s been that trajectory that we haven’t really seen,” he continued.
“(With other rising stars) we’ve seen an upward curve and then a plateau and then a little dip, before we’ve seen an upward curve again.
“Alcaraz is going to go and stay trending up. Rafa’s probably the last one to have done that, and then from my perspective it was Boris Becker who similarly burst onto the scene. Boris won a Slam very quickly after winning at Queen’s Club. Rafa did the same in 2005, winning his first Masters titles (Monte Carlo and Rome) then turning up to Roland Garros and winning that.
“This is rarefied air Alcaraz has stepped into. So I think it’s a really exciting time.”