Former WTA star fears for Carlos Alcaraz in worrying Rafael Nadal comparison

Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal at the net

Andrea Petkovic has admitted she is “worried” about Carlos Alcaraz as she made a comparison between the young star and his great fellow countryman Rafael Nadal.

The former world No 9 suggested Alcaraz could suffer with injuries throughout his career after dealing with physical issues at a young age because the same happened to Nadal.

Alcaraz was forced to miss the ATP Finals last year due to an abdominal muscle tear he sustained at the Paris Masters, before a right leg injury kept him out of the 2023 Australian Open.

The 20-year-old has not dealt with any significant injuries since, although he skipped the Swiss Indoors in Basel in October due to minor issues with his left foot and his lower back.

The Spaniard had a career-best season this year, winning six titles and compiling an excellent 65-12 (84.4%) record as he finished as world No 2.

Alcaraz won two Masters 1000 crowns, two ATP 500 tournaments and an ATP 250 title, but the highlight was his triumph at Wimbledon — where he overcame Novak Djokovic in a five-set epic.

Following his victory at the All England Club in July, though, Alcaraz did not claim another title and reached one final in the eight events he played, and lost four of his last six matches of the season.

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Struggling in the latter part of the season has also been a common theme in Nadal’s career, with fatigue and injuries often a factor, as well as the less-favourable surfaces.

The 37-year-old legend has never won the ATP Finals or the Masters 1000 events in Paris and Shanghai, which are the three biggest tournaments on the ATP calendar after the US Open. The Mallorcan did, though, win the Madrid Masters in 2005 when it was an indoor hard-court event played late in the year.

Speaking on an episode of The Rennae Stubbs Tennis Podcast, Petkovic shared an observation about athletes she feels Nadal exemplifies, while expressing concern Alcaraz could follow the same path.

“I have observed the thing with athletes, with colleagues that I’ve been next to for past 20 years. When someone has an injury very early on in their career, it seems to just keep bothering them in the same place,” the German assessed.

“But I think it’s when you’re still growing. I am [worried about Alcaraz]! Same with Rafa, Rafa had a bad injury early on, and he always had injuries.

“If you look at someone like [Novak] Djokovic, Roger [Federer] – they were never injured. I do think if you’re unlucky at the beginning of your career, while you’re still growing with a big injury, it tends to come bite you back in the a**.”

Nadal has dealt with numerous physical problems throughout his 22 years on tour to date, having sustained serious injuries in the early stages of his career.

The Spaniard suffered a stress fracture in his ankle during the clay-court season in 2004 that forced him to miss the French Open and Wimbledon and a foot injury which ended his 2005 season.

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