Carlos Alcaraz ‘paying the bill’ after ‘miracle’ 2022 season, says tennis pundit
Carlos Alcaraz was left mentally and physically drained by an exhausting campaign that saw him win the US Open and become world No 1, according to Alex Corretja.
The Spaniard picked up an abdominal injury during his run to the quarter-final of the Paris Masters and subsequently withdrew from the season-ending ATP Finals.
It remains to be seen if he will finish the year as the world No 1 as his compatriot Rafael Nadal or Stefanos Tsitsipas could still overtake him in the rankings with the outcome based on their performances in Turin this week.
It has been a remarkable season for the 19-year-old though as he started the year by winning four titles – including the ATP Masters 1000 trophies at the Miami Open and Madrid Open – during the first half of the campaign as he surged into the top 10. He also reached the quarter-final of the French Open.
After finishing runner-up at the European Open and Croatia Open, all the pieces fell into place at Flushing Meadows as he won the US Open with his victory also resulting in the world No 1 ranking.
He then competed in the Davis Cup Finals playoffs before playing in the Astana Open and Swiss Indoors and Corretja feels exertions of the season took its toll.
“The effort of the US Open came with a bill to pay,” the former world No 2 told Eurosport. “You achieve the goal of a lifetime, the dream of becoming world No 1 and to win a Slam.
“The following weeks are automatically the toughest to deal with. He played the Davis Cup just afterwards, then went to a tournament very far away [in Astana, Kazakhstan], with the long flight and the time competing he had to do.
“Of course, in the end, it is a pity because we hoped to see him at the [Paris] Masters, to fight for the world No 1 against Rafa [Nadal], not especially to measure who is the best out of the two, but more for the pride to have two Spaniards fighting for the world No 1 throne.
“On top of that, not having him for the Davis Cup Finals, which had drawn lots of expectation because it is being played in Spain. But I’ll say it again: all this is normal with everything that happened, even if it is a bit of a ‘what a pity’ situation.
“I am convinced that in 2023, it will be dealt with differently, and I still think that the way they [his coaching team] dealt with him was still excellent. We’ve got to remember that what Alcaraz has done is almost a miracle because fighting for what he actually fights for at the age of 19, no one had ever done it before.”
Alcaraz competed in 19 tournaments last year, but he only played 49 singles matches in total. He has only featured in 17 events this year, but his overall match tally is 70 (57-13 win-loss record).
Although he has youth on his side and is generally one of the fittest athletes on the ATP Tour, he was always going to hit some stumbling blocks when it comes to adapting to the intensity of playing week in and week out during the business end of big tournaments.
“The efforts delivered by Alcaraz were immense, too much, to a point where it was almost impossible not to get injured,” Corretja said.
“What happened is…I can’t say that he went straight from 0 to 10 but let’s say from 4 to 10, and it takes a huge mental and physical demand; it’s very difficult to deal with.”
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