Former world No 1 a ‘big fan’ of Carlos Alcaraz as he predicts teenager will top rankings within three years

Carlos Alcaraz focused

Carlos Alcaraz “is very good for the game of tennis” and “will be the best ranked player in the world in a maximum of three years” if he continues to develop his game, according to former world No 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Touted as a future star of Spanish tennis, the 18-year-old delivered on the big stage on Friday as he stunned world No 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets at the US Open.

He followed it up with a four-set victory over qualifier Peter Gojowczyk to become the youngest male quarter-finalist at Flushing Meadows since 1963.

On the back of his win over Tsitsipas, two-time Grand Slam winner Kafelnikov tweeted that the 18-year-old will be world No 1 within three years.

In an interview with Tennis Majors, the Russian admitted he is a “big fan” of the teenager.

“I am a big fan. The kid is very good for the game of tennis. He is young, he is talented and has huge potential to get to the place where I think he can get,” he said.

Asked about his prediction that Alcaraz will top the rankings in three years, Kafelnikov says the youngster “has got the game”.

“I stick to that statement and I will tell you why. Lately, his game has matured a lot, since what I saw last year for example,” he said.

“After the match, even Tsitsipas himself in the interview said that he never played against anybody who was hitting the ball so hard. One player who hits the ball hard is Andrey Rublev, and Rublev and Tsitsipas are good friends; for Tsitsipas to say that about Alcaraz, it is a big deal.

“I saw the match from the first point to the very last. What surprised me was how Carlos basically never gave up. In the third set, Stefanos was 5-2 and two breaks up, but Carlos kept fighting, showing a lot of courage and maturity along the way.

“He is definitely not a typical Spanish player. He does not like to be one the baseline always, to sort of wait for the opponent’s mistakes. No, he likes to create the point and finish it at the net, his mindset is offensive tennis. He has got the game and, if he keeps going the same way, I am sure that he will be the best ranked player in the world in a maximum of three years.”

As for the Spaniard’s strong points, Kafelnikov picked out “fluent backhand” as a standout feature.

“To be honest, he does not need to improve anything. He just needs to continue to do what he is doing,” he said.

“He has got a good coach in Juan Carlos Ferrero, a Grand Slam champion who knows how to get the job done. Like I said, he is not a typical Spanish player, which drove me to say what I said about him being No 1.

“He has got such a fluent backhand; he can go crosscourt, he can go up the line… Actually, his backhand reminds me of my backhand, back when I was at the top of my game. He can play drop volleys, he can play drop shots – variety in his game is going to help him go far in his tennis career.”