Carlos Alcaraz’s arrival could not have come at a better time for tennis as the sport starts to prepare for life after the Big Three, according to Madrid Open Tournament Director Feliciano Lopez.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have ruled tennis the past two decades as they have won 64 Grand Slams between them, dominated the world No 1 ranking and set numerous other records along the way.
However, Federer retired in September last year while there are major doubts over Nadal’s future as he has played only four matches this year due to a hip injury. Age is also not on his side as he turns 37 on June 3.
Although Djokovic remains a dominant figure on the Tour as he won the season-opening Grand Slam, the Australian Open, and is currently top of the ATP Rankings, he is also in the twilight of his career as he will turn 36 on May 22.
But while the Big Three are on the way down, Alcaraz is on the up and he has already reached the top as he won his maiden Grand Slam at the age of 19 at the US Open last year and also became the youngest world No 1.
Many believe the Spaniard will dominate the sport over the next decade or so and could eventually surpass many of the records currently held by Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
Alcaraz won his 10th ATP Tour singles title over the weekend when he successfully defend his Madrid Open trophy and former world No 12 Feliciano Lopez feels it is “important” for the sport to have “someone like Carlos right now”.
“It is not often that you see someone so young with that kind of energy and who can connect with the public. It’s a blessing for tennis to have this player who, at only 20 years old, has already won a Grand Slam and been No 1,” he told French publication L’Equipe.
“Because we are at a pivotal moment with Federer gone, Nadal, whom we don’t know yet how long he’ll play, and Novak who’s 35. It’s even more important to have someone like Carlos right now.”
Alcaraz and Djokovic will both be in action at the same tournament for the first time this year as they are in the main draw of the Italian Open. The Spaniard missed the start of the season as well as the Monte Carlo Masters due to injury while Djokovic missed the Sunshine Double due to his unvaccinated status and the Madrid Open because of injury.