Tim Henman issues Carlos Alcaraz warning as the Spaniard is likened to Nick Kyrgios
Tim Henman asserted that “we need to be careful of what we wish for” after Carlos Alcaraz drew criticism over his aggressive playing style following his Australian Open exit.
Tennis legend Mats Wilander felt Alcaraz’s approach cost him in his defeat to Alexander Zverev and suggested his shot selection is “sort of similar” to that of Nick Kyrgios.
Alcaraz was defeated in four sets by world No 6 Zverev in the quarter-finals of the 2024 Australian Open last week after delivering an erratic display for much of the first three sets.
The world No 2 fought back from 2-5 behind in the third set and produced a superb sequence to win it in a tiebreak and avoid a one-sided loss, but Zverev held him off in the fourth.
The two-time Grand Slam champion has been questioned for not adjusting his ultra aggressive tactics given he was misfiring for large periods of the contest.
Wilander recognised Alcaraz’s approach brought him huge success in last year’s Wimbledon final, but argued it was not suitable against the big-serving Zverev.
“The first few points in the match is what worries most people. You can’t do that when you play against Alexander Zverev,” the seven-time major champion told Eurosport.
“You can do that when you play against Rafa or Novak, where you have a chance to break and give yourself some time, but when you’re playing a guy like that, the first two points of [your] service game are huge because [if they] go up a break, that’s it, done.
“In the Wimbledon final against Djokovic, he started serving for the match with a drop shot, lost it, and then hit another drop shot, winning that to hold serve. Do we want him as a fan to change that?
“It’s the same as Nick Kyrgios. I’d like to see him win majors, but do I want him to hit tweeners? I’m not really sure. Alcaraz is sort of similar.”
Former world No 4 Henman, though, suggested he feels it could be a mistake for Alcaraz to abandon the style that has already seen him hit great heights.
“We need to be careful of what we wish for,” the Brit replied to Wilander.
Laura Robson, a former world No 27, defended the 20-year-old Spaniard and feels he has simply been enduring a more challenging spell of form since Wimbledon.
“There’s no panic for Carlos because he’s having a bit of a slump – I wouldn’t even call it that – post-Wimbledon,” Robson said.
“A couple of months where he hasn’t quite played as disciplined as he did there. It’s a bit of discipline that he’s lacking in his game because he wants to for all of these crazy shots, but you can. That’s half the fun. That’s why you pick up a racquet in the first place.
“You don’t want to lose that part of your game. No stress, no drama, and we’re going to be talking about him for another 10 or 15 years.”
Former world No 7 Barbara Schett also suggested Alcaraz lacks discipline in his shot selection, but called for patience given his age.
“I don’t see him as a showman, really. Nick Kyrgios, Gael Monfils, and Frances Tiafoe are showmen. Alcaraz is so young and he has those matches every now and then where he doesn’t have a game plan,” the Austrian assessed.
“He’s not very disciplined with his shot selection. That was the case [against Zverev]. We have to give him some time; those matches don’t happen that often anymore.”
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