Carlos Alcaraz’s injury record unwrapped: growing pains or long-term problem?

Carlos Alcaraz is facing yet more injury trouble
Injury issues continue to mount for Carlos Alcaraz

The Italian Open is less than a week away, but there will be no Carlos Alcaraz in 2024.

The Spaniard’s hopes of finding some clay form have been dashed, with the arm injury that saw him pull out of Monte Carlo and Barcelona again rearing its ugly head.

This is not the first time the world No 3 has been struck down by physical issues; in fact, it has become an all too frequent part of his short, yet successful, career.

We look at Alcaraz’s injury troubles, and whether there is any long-term cause for concern.

US Open 2021

Alcaraz’s first big breakthrough came at the US Open three years ago where – aged just 18 – he reached the quarter-final.

The highlight of that run was a stunning win over world No 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round, though a build-up of tennis over the tournament led to a sad end to his campaign.

Suffering from a leg injury, Alcaraz was forced to retire a set and a break down in the last eight to Felix Auger-Aliassime, later revealing it was a leg injury that had troubled him.

Italian Open 2022

Alcaraz’s star was in full ascendancy in 2022, with a first significant title coming at the Miami Open in March of that year.

And that was quickly followed by two triumphs on home soil in Barcelona and in Madrid – beating Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the latter event.

But it was not a clay court season without disruption, as Alcaraz withdrew from Rome due to an ankle issue.

Paris Masters and ATP Finals 2022

Perhaps Alcaraz’s most significant injury spell started here – when he was fresh off winning the US Open and rising to world No 1.

The then-19-year-old was looking to finish the season on a high, playing tournament after tournament, but was forced to retire injured in his Paris Masters quarter-final against Holger Rune.
It was later revealed that he had sustained an abdominal injury, which also saw him miss what would have been a maiden ATP Finals.

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Australian Open 2023

Alcaraz was dealt a cruel blow at the beginning of 2023, overcoming one injury only to suffer another almost immediately.

He had recovered well from his abdominal issue towards the end of 2022, but then sustained a hamstring injury in training, ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2023.

And the Spaniard was unable to recover in time for Melbourne, unable to play his first major since becoming a Slam champion.

Acapulco Open 2023

After Australian Open heartbreak, Alcaraz responded finely, winning the title in Buenos Aires and reaching the final at the Rio Open.

But that Rio final did more harm than good, as he appeared to sustain yet another physical issue in a three-set loss to Cameron Norrie.

And it was confirmed shortly afterwards that he had picked up another hamstring problem, which saw him out of Acapulco.

Monte Carlo Masters 2023

His withdrawal from Acapulco was followed by a dominant run to a first Indian Wells title and then a run to the last four in Miami.

All eyes were on whether Alcaraz could follow up his strong performances at those Masters 1000 events with a deep run in Monte Carlo, where he had lost his first match the previous year.

But Alcaraz would ultimately pull out of the tournament due to post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine.

 

Davis Cup 2023

Last summer was a hugely busy one for Alcaraz; he won Queens and Wimbledon, before reaching the semi-final of Cincinnati, and then the last four at the US Open when he was defending his title.

And, after such a heavy schedule, it was no surprise that he was feeling physically and mentally drained.

He decided to withdraw from Spain’s Davis Cup squad for their qualifying matches, instead choosing to rest.

Basel Open 2023

The race to finish the year as No 1 was well and truly on between Alcaraz and Djokovic at the tail end of 2023, though Alcaraz was dealt a small blow by being unable to defend semi-final points in Basel.

Prioritising the Paris Masters and ATP Finals, he withdrew from the ATP 500 event in Switzerland due to a left foot injury and muscle fatigue in his back.

Read More: Carlos Alcaraz facing alarming rankings slide as injury problem refuses to clear

Rio Open 2024

After a shock loss to Nicolas Jarry in the last four of Buenos Aires, Alcaraz was looking to bounce back as top seed at the Rio Open.

But his chances of victory were derailed just a handful of points into his campaign, twisting his ankle early on in his round one contest against Thiago Monteiro.

In visible pain, Alcaraz was forced to retire just two games into the match.

Monte Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open, and Italian Open 2024

Alcaraz’s Rio injury was not a long-term issue, with a successful defence of his Indian Wells title coming just weeks later.

But the world No 3 couldn’t stay injury-free for long, with another spell on the sidelines now underway.

An arm issue saw him pull out of Monte Carlo, and the same problem means he could not defend his crown in Barcelona the following week.

And, after playing in Madrid, the issue is persisting, with Rome the third event he has withdrawn from this clay season.

How concerned should we be?

One way to look at Alcaraz’s injury record is that because he is still so young and shot to the top of the game so quickly, he was always likely to face a few physical stumbling blocks.

On the other hand, however, the sheer number of times he has been injured – and the fact he has suffered multiple different injuries – is a cause for concern.

Alcaraz’s frenetic, aggressive game is the reason he is a two-time major winner and former world No 1, but it has likely left him more prone to physical ailments.

As he approaches a summer with significant points to defend, we could get more of an idea as to whether he is merely suffering growing pains, or if there is reason to worry.

Read More: Carlos Alcaraz dealt huge blow as latest injury forces significant withdrawal