John McEnroe compares Carlos Alcaraz to ‘Big 3’ as he claims French Open glory

Kevin Palmer
Carlos Alcaraz and John McEnroe
John McEnroe lavishes praise on Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz won his third Grand Slam title at the age of 21 – and that has inspired tennis legend John McEnroe to make a lavish claim as he compared him to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. 

Spanish young gun Alcaraz filled a Rafael Nadal-sized void at Roland Garros with a marathon 6-3 2-6 5-7 6-1 6-2 victory in four hours and 19 minutes.

He now joins fellow Spaniard Nadal as the only men to lift the Roland Garros trophy aged under 22 and is the youngest man to win a Grand Slam title on all hard courts grass and clay courts, adding the Roland Garros crown to the US Open title he won in 2022 and the Wimbledon crown he won last summer.

Now he has been hailed by McEnroe as the new king of tennis as he suggested is a better player than the ‘Big 3’ of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at the same age.

“He’s already better than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at 21,” McEnroe told Eurosport.

“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again for the record. Carlos Alcaraz is my favourite player to watch.

“He’s the most skilled young man I’ve ever seen at this age. It’s hard to believe he can keep improving improve as he is already so good at everything.

“The biggest thing he brings to the court is that smile. The joy he brings to the court to compete for everything. That is so hard to be able to do. Enjoy it while you are stressing out.

“Alcaraz is a unique individual and you’ve got to love what he brings to our sport. Don’t get injured Carlos!”

Carlos Alcaraz takes long and winding road to his French Open destiny

Grand Slam-winning great Mats Wilander joined McEnroe in his acclaim for Alcaraz, as he suggested his impact would be crucial for the sport.

“We need Carlos Alcaraz more than anything in our sport at the moment,” declared Wilander.

“To keep relevant, I think he needs to keep winning. Maybe one major a year. He will change our sport and the way people look at tennis. He is such a breath of fresh air; he is smiling, he is humble, his speech was great.

“This is great for professional tennis. It will be tough to catch Carlos now that he can win when he’s not playing his best against the best players in the world.

“He’s finding ways to win when he’s not playing great. This match for me means he will win eight or nine majors, for sure.”

“We’re looking at a multiple Grand Slam champion, this could be the next Novak Djokovic for all we know.”

Former Britsh No 1 was also gushing in his praise of Alcaraz as he also gave his verdict to Eurosport.

“Alcaraz is so humble, so down to earth, such great values and he’s such a great ambassador for our sport,” said four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Henman.

“To be 21 and to have won three Grand Slams already, it’s going to be so exciting to watch him in the future.

“Zverev is a great player and even great players play bad points. But you can’t allow is it to become two or three or four bad points and that’s exactly what happened. He worked so hard to get into that position in the early part of the fifth [set] and you have to do the basics well.

“I do believe that Zverev will win a Slam at some stage. He’s come close, this will be a bitter pill to swallow but he’s got to keep believing.

“Alcaraz is 21 years of age. It’s staggering for him to be producing this level of tennis, the physicality and also the mentality.

“I think he can win nine or ten Slams. There will be new players that come up but his skillset, his game is so complete, his athletic ability is incredible, his attitude, his competitive spirit – it’s all there. It’s going to be fascinating to see how he goes.”

“When you see players like Nadal and Djokovic showing that they’re still fans is very, very special.”