‘Special’ Carlos Alcaraz labelled the French Open favourite by former world No 3

Ewan West
Carlos Alcaraz during his match with Novak Djokovic at 2023 ATP Finals
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates against Novak Djokovic at the 2023 ATP Finals

Former world No 3 David Ferrer has identified his fellow Spaniard and two-time major champion Carlos Alcaraz as the favourite to win the 2024 French Open title. 

The Spanish Davis Cup captain also expressed his hope that Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal would join forces for his side in the team competition later this year.

Alcaraz, who will turn 21 in May, has already showcased his surface versatility and complete game by winning multiple titles on hard courts, clay and grass.

His two Grand Slam titles have come on the hard courts of the US Open and the grass courts of Wimbledon, although seven of his 12 tournament victories have been on clay courts.

The world No 2 has secured two Masters 1000 titles on clay, having won the Madrid Open in 2022 and 2023, while he has also won the Barcelona Open twice, and the Rio Open once — both of which are ATP 500 clay events.

Alcaraz’s best result at the French Open to date was reaching the semi-finals last year, when he fell in four sets to Novak Djokovic after struggling badly with cramps from the third set. He was beaten by Alexander Zverev in four sets in the last eight at Roland Garros in 2022.

READ MORE: Carlos Alcaraz’s coach assesses how he must improve as he responds to Andy Roddick criticism

In an interview with Marca, Ferrer named Alcaraz when asked if he places one candidate to win the 2024 French Open men’s title above he rest.

The 2013 French Open finalist then addressed whether it is now more difficult for Alcaraz to win than before because his rivals know his game.

“He is second in the world and you cannot demand that a 20-year-old player always win. The players also know him better, but he is a special player, of the calibre of Rafa, Roger or Novak. Now is when you handle the pressure,” Ferrer explained.

“Not everything is new, you demand that you always win because you are second in the world and you have been number one. The semi-finals are no longer valid. He demands to win and it is not easy, it is a process and we have all been there.

“Well everyone, I’m referring to Carlos, Rafa, Carlos Moya, [Juan Carlos] Ferrero, who were very special players. It is a learning experience and Carlos is able to assume and accept where he can improve. The year has just begun and it will evolve, without a doubt.”

Ferrer also discussed Spain’s failure to qualify for the Final 8 stage of the 2023 Davis Cup and the prospect of the nation’s two biggest stars teaming up in doubles this year.

“Yes, it was complicated because we didn’t qualify. These are things that happen in tennis and you can’t always win. The team was young and there has to be a transition,” the 41-year-old said.

“We had injuries to [Roberto] Bautista [Agut], [Pablo] Carreno [Busta], and Carlos Alcaraz. But it’s not an excuse. This year we hope to improve and have our chances of winning the title. I have faith in the players. Furthermore, it is an Olympic year and I will be very active as captain.

“Hopefully [Nadal and Alcaraz can play doubles together in the Davis Cup]. What I can say is that we have to wait a little to see how Rafa goes on the Indian Wells tour and then on the clay tour, which is very important to see how he feels.

“Today, Rafa’s priority, before the Davis Cup, is the Games. Have a good clay tour, feel competitive and be at the Paris event. The option that he can play doubles with Carlos Alcaraz is something that all tennis fans and I, as captain, are very excited to see being there.”

READ MORE: ‘Rafael Nadal will without a doubt play next season if he avoids injuries’ – former world No 3