Alcaraz has eyes on Roland Garros

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MADRID:

Teenager Carlos Alcaraz continued his blazing rise by demolishing Alexander Zverev in the Madrid final on Sunday and then said “I really want to prove my level in a Grand Slam”.

Two weeks before the start of the French Open, the young Spaniard brushed aside his third-ranked foe 6-3, 6-1 in 62 minutes to continue a run that signals tennis has a new power.

“I really want to go to Paris to win a Grand Slam, to show my level in a Grand Slam,” said Alcaraz at a press conference after winning the second Masters 1000 of his career.

“People are going to take me as a favourite, but I take that as motivation,” added Alcaraz.

He said he will miss the Rome claycourt tournament this week after injuring an ankle in beating Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals on Friday.

“This morning, because of the fall against Rafa, I woke up with a more swollen ankle and I also had a blister that had become infected,” he said.

“It was a little difficult to walk, but… we were able to do a few things to be at 100 percent for the match.”

Before the Madrid tournament last year, Alcaraz was ranked 120th in the world. On Monday he will reach number six.

“I have five more to go to be the best in the world,” he said.

He became the youngest US Open quarter-finalist of the Open era last September, then won his first Masters 1000 title in Miami in early April.

Victory on Sunday brought a second Masters 1000 title. The only younger player to reach that milestone was Nadal, who won in Monte Carlo and Rome when he was 18.

Alcaraz turned 19 on Thursday and over the next two days battled past Nadal in two hours and 28 minutes and Novak Djokovic in 3hr 36min.

“I am 19 years old, which I think is the key to be able to play long and tough matches in a row. I am feeling great physically,” he said

“It feels great to be able to beat these players. To beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the world No. 3. He is a great player. I would say this is the best week of my life,” he said.

Zverev had no doubt where the teenager’s trajectory is heading.

“It’s great to see for tennis that we have such a new superstar who is going to win so many Grand Slams and is going to be world no. 1,” said the German.

The atmosphere on Sunday did not reach the fervour of the day before, as Alcaraz grabbed control early and cruised to his quickest victory of the week.

Even so, “it was a spectacular atmosphere,” he told the crowd at the end.

“This tournament is special for me because it’s the first tournament I watched when I was seven or eight,” said Alcaraz.

“Watching Rafa lift this trophy so often, gave me a lot of power to work hard for this moment.”

Zverev complained that he was “dead”  because he had played the latest matches the previous two nights, yet he was impressed with Alcaraz.

“Carlitos, right now you are the best player in the world. Even though you are still five years old you are still beating us all,” he told Alcaraz on court after the match.

Alcaraz said he had some way to go.

“I still have to improve in everything,” he said. “I have very good shots, but they can be improved and can be much better.”

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Originally published at tribune.com.pk

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