So much has changed for Carlos Alcaraz since he arrived at the US Open last year. Then outside the Top 50, he is now the No. 4 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings with two ATP Masters 1000 titles to his name.
The Spaniard does not see himself any differently as he enters the season’s final major, though.
“I [do not] feel at all the difference between last year, for example, and now,” Alcaraz said. “I’m just trying to be the same kid as always.”
Last year, the teen was chasing his dreams and still relatively unknown to casual fans. Now, Alcaraz is one of the most beloved tennis players in the world. But his attitude towards the spotlight has remained the same.
“It’s difficult, but that’s how I am. The same kid as always,” Alcaraz said. “[It is important] to be humble, and I always will be the same.”
Nadal, Alcaraz On Same Half, Medvedev Faces Tricky US Open Draw
Another difference for Alcaraz is that he is considered one of the favourites to lift the trophy at Flushing Meadows. The Spaniard is the only singles player who has won multiple Masters 1000 titles this season (Miami, Madrid) and he is seeded third in New York.
Alcaraz admitted in Montreal, where he lost his opening match against Tommy Paul, that he did start to feel the weight of expectations.
“I think in Montreal I felt the pressure and I tried to [not] think about that, just to enjoy. My pressure here is to enjoy every match, show my best game,” Alcaraz said. “Obviously, I want to do a good result here. It’s a really important tournament for me. But I know that if I don’t feel that pressure as a bad part, I will go forward.
“Obviously, my goal here is to enjoy. I think if I do that, I will do a good result.”
When the draw was released Thursday, it was revealed that Alcaraz could play Rafael Nadal in a blockbuster semi-final. Nadal leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, with all three of their clashes coming in the past 16 months at Masters 1000 events.
“Of course, it would be amazing for me to play a semi-final here against Rafa, but there are great matches ahead. There are a lot of days before going to a semi-final,” Alcaraz said. “Of course, Rafa has to win his matches, as well. So it’s a long process.”
Most importantly, Alcaraz knows he can succeed in New York. The teen showed no fear of the big stage last year, when he upset Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarter-finals.
“I feel stronger and more prepared than last year,” Alcaraz said. “I did quarter-finals in Roland Garros, as well. I have played long matches, of course, tough matches this year against the top players. I think I’m more ready in this tournament than the last year.”
Did You Know?
If Alcaraz wins the US Open, he will become the youngest No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (since 1973).
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