‘Carlos Alcaraz the most complete 20-year-old, but his backhand gets a B+’

Shahida Jacobs
Carlos Alcaraz moving
Carlos Alcaraz hits a shot

The sky is the limit for Carlos Alcaraz with John McEnroe saying all of the young gun’s attributes are already an “A or an A+” except for his backhand, although that is also not too “bad”.

Alcaraz took the tennis world by storm in 2022 as he surged from outside the top 30 in the ATP Rankings to world No 1 on the back of winning the US Open and two ATP Masters 1000 titles, becoming the youngest player in history to top the rankings at 19 years and four months.

There has been no second-season syndrome so far from the Spaniard as he has already won four titles – including the ATP 1000 Indian Wells Open and Madrid Open – and recently returned to No 1 after being bumped off top spot by Novak Djokovic.

He is a strong favourite to continue that form and win a second Grand Slam at this year’s French Open where he is the top seed and seven-times major winner McEnroe waxed lyrical about the 20-year-old after his 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Taro Daniel in the second round.

“You’re darn right [that Alcaraz could win more majors],” the American told Eurosport commentator Chris Bradnam.

“You say 10 [Grand Slams] and that sounds absurd to the other guys who are at 20, 22. You then think that he should get at least that much. I always thought, ‘hey, I’ve got seven, that’s pretty good’, but now it’s like, ‘where did I go wrong?’

“The sky seems to be the limit at this point. Expectations are so high; you want to temper them and put more pressure on him, but he seems to handle it unbelievably well. At some point, it’s going to hit him, and we just hope he will be ready for it then.”

He added: “Truthfully, I think he is a complete player. His backhand could be better, and I’m trying to think what else. I’d give [all his attributes] an A or an A+. His backhand would be a B+. That’s not to say it’s bad.

“I’m not kidding, this is the best I’ve ever seen a 20-year-old, as complete a player. Sampras had the biggest serve I ever saw in my life. How could someone that age serve that big? Becker was another. Pete’s backhand [was weaker], and Boris maybe didn’t move as well as some of the other guys.

“You could look at a couple of things and figure that if they won as much as they did, if they did improve, they weren’t already completely there. [Alcaraz] is all there.”

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