‘Carlos Alcaraz got to the top artificially early because of Novak Djokovic’s vaccine status’

Shahida Jacobs
Carlos Alcaraz with the US Open trophy

Carlos Alcaraz is the “kind of exciting player” that tennis needs at the moment, but tennis commentator Chris Bowers believes he “was slightly thrust into the limelight a little too early”.

The 20-year-old Alcaraz is one of the hottest properties not just in tennis, but sport in general after he shot to fame on the back of his incredible 2022 season.

The Spaniard won his maiden Grand Slam that year at the US Open with the victory helping him to become the youngest world No 1 in ATP Tour history as he was just 19 years, four months and six days old when he surged to the top. He won five titles in total in 2022, including two ATP Masters 1000 trophies, and also finished as the youngest-ever year-end No 1.

Last year he continued to impress as he won Wimbledon, ending Novak Djokovic’s long reign at SW19 as he defeated the tennis great in the final, but finished the year at No 2 behind the Serbian.

However, the youngster has struggled a bit since Wimbledon as he hasn’t won a title since his incredible run at the grass-court major. He is 6-2 this year after losing in the quarter-final of the Australian Open and in the semi-final of the Argentina Open.

In an extended interview on the Tennis Channel Inside-In podcast, broadcaster and tennis historian Bowers talked about the different eras and why it is important to have contrasting styles in the sport.

Bowers admitted he is excited about Alcaraz, but felt the youngster got to the top “too early” due to Djokovic’s inability to play at several tournaments in 2022 over his unvaccinated status.

“I would say, the person I’m most excited about now is Alcaraz. And as I say that it’s easy to say that now because his trajectory is slightly on the down at the moment, he may well come up, win Roland Garros this year,” Bowers said.

“At the moment he’s slightly at the down, doesn’t seem to play too much, partly because he got to the top artificially early because Djokovic wasn’t allowed to play two of the four majors and four of the eight Masters in 2022 because of his vaccine status.

“So I think Alcaraz was slightly thrust into the limelight a little too early, but he is that kind of exciting player that we need, and we were to have in three years time a top 10 including Alcaraz – I suspect Djokovic will be gone by then – [Nick] Kyrgios, [Denis] Shapovalov, [Sebastian] Korda, [Lorenzo] Musetti, that to me would be exciting.

“I have a slight fear there will be players… hang on, I will be honest with you, I found the Djokovic-Murray Grand Slam finals were massively interesting because they were like chess matches, they were cancelling each other out.

“For me, tennis lives off contrasting styles and you need players who play tennis in different ways and I worry that the increase physicality and the technology means that we are getting to a point where everyone plays the same way.”

READ MORE: ‘I don’t think Carlos Alcaraz will win 20 Grand Slams’, assesses top commentator