Martina Navratilova – an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion – says she is “cancer free” after fearing she “would not see next Christmas”.
Martina Navratilova – an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion – says she is “cancer free” after fearing she “would not see next Christmas”.
Editor’s note: This story was translated from ATPTour.com/es
Conventional wisdom in professional sport tells us that getting to the top is hard, but staying there is even harder. Carlos Alcaraz knows this as well as anyone, but he demonstrated his maturity with a victorious response to the pressure of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open, with his Indian Wells title run making him the youngest tennis player in history to return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
At just 19 years and 10 months of age, the Spaniard is back at the pinnacle of the sport, a position he first reached in September by claiming his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open. Now, having picked up the third ATP Masters 1000 title of his career in Indian Wells, the smile is back on the face of the Murcia native after he reclaimed the throne on the men’s tour, something no other player has ever managed before the age of 21.
Alcaraz’s success in California allowed him to better the achievement of Marat Safin more than 20 years ago, as he continues to break age-old records with astonishing ease. On the list of all players to have enjoyed multiple tenures as World No. 1 since the Pepperstone ATP Rankings began in August 1973 — a list replete with greats of the game, all hungry to call themselves No. 1 — the player from El Palmar now sits proudly above the rest as its youngest member.
Having already become the youngest man ever to rise to World No. 1 (19 years, 4 months) and to close out a season at the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (19 years, 7 months), Alcaraz has added yet another record to his growing list — this time, demonstrating his ability to bounce back.
Players who have returned to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings
|19 years, 10 months
|21 years, 0 months
|21 years, 4 months
|21 years, 6 months
|22 years, 1 months
|22 years, 3 months
|22 years, 8 months
|22 years, 10 months
|23 years, 7 months
|23 years, 8 months
|24 years, 0 months
|24 years, 5 months
|24 years, 11 months
|25 years, 1 months
|25 years, 6 months
|25 years, 9 months
|26 years, 4 months
|27 years, 11 months
|28 years, 5 months
Alcaraz has written another chapter in the history of tennis with his quick comeback. But Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil will have to keep his foot on the gas in the Miami Open presented by Itau, where he is the defending champion. At the venue where he earned his first ATP Masters 1000 title one year ago, Alcaraz will have to mount a successful title defence in order to maintain his status atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
The magnitude of Alcaraz’s achievement becomes clear when seen in context: Nine of the 28 players to have been No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings were unable to return to the top of the list once they had been dethroned. Ilie Nastase, John Newcombe, Mats Wilander, Carlos Moya, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Patrick Rafter, Ferrero, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray all had but one spell at the pinnacle of men’s professional tennis.
Now, Alcaraz will be hoping to stay there. The Spaniard is the 16th player in the history of men’s tennis to have surpassed 20 weeks as the singles World No. 1. Only three active players — Murray (41), Rafael Nadal (209) and Novak Djokovic (380) – have spent longer at the top than Alcaraz, whose astonishing career is showing no signs of slowing down.
Stefanos Tsitsipas missed Acapulco late last month with a shoulder injury and continued to feel the effects of the issue in an early Indian Wells exit. But as the Greek prepares for the Miami Open presented by Itau, he is hopeful that he can play pain-free at the year’s second ATP Masters 1000.
“Everything is getting better and I’m heading toward the right direction,” he said Tuesday during the tournament’s media day. “[I hope] to play pain-free and just be able to step out there and show something different than Indian Wells because Indian Wells was a big struggle… I hope I get to play with more of an element of fun on the court and not think too much about my arm.”
Tsitsipas is seeded second in Miami, where he has reached at least the fourth round in each of the past three tournament editions, including a career-best quarter-final showing in 2021. After overcoming a wrist injury that required surgery to make a strong start to the 2022 ATP Tour season, the Greek hopes to rebound form his latest setback with similar success.
“My health is the most important thing that I could have in tennis,” he said. “When I’m feeling healthy, everything falls into place nicely. I’m enjoying myself on the court, I’m getting creative, I can mix up my game and I feel like nothing can go wrong. This is what my aim is for this tournament, to just play pain-free and see how my arm responds on these next few days.”
Last year in Miami, Tsitsipas was knocked out by eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz in the last 16. It was the second of the pair’s three ATP Head2Head meetings, with the Greek still seeking his first win. After seeing Alcaraz win Indian Wells and return to the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — a position Tsitsipas was one win away from claiming for the first time in the Australian Open final — the 24-year-old says he is happy to see players from his generation succeed.
“I’m happy for them,” he said, responding to a question about Alcaraz and Indian Wells finalist Daniil Medvedev. “I believe in the message of ubuntu… by having others be good, [to] sort of witness greatness of others around me, I am also allowing myself to become better too. I believe in that message and I think the fact that they’re doing well is benefitting me too and it’s giving me a clear, better view of how I should approach my game.”
Tsitsipas, who cannot face Medvedev until the semis or Alcaraz until the final, will open his Miami campaign against Richard Gasquet or a qualifier/lucky loser.
The two-time ATP Masters 1000 champion also shared some insight into his life off the court, explaining how he has changed his habits on the road since his early years on the ATP Tour.
“I have been very open to be a bit more loose and not so strict with myself the last few years, comparing myself to three or four years ago when I got started,” he said. “I was extremely disciplined. Not that I’m not now, but I can let go sometimes. For example, I would just spend the entire two weeks sometimes locked inside my room and go nowhere. I do allow myself a little bit more freedom now and I think it has benefitted me a lot and gave me the opportunity to also grow as a person and not be 100 per cent focussed on the tennis every single week.”
If Tsitsipas can find the tennis he needs to book a long stay in Miami, he’ll certainly have no shortage of options for off-court fun in South Florida.
Last year, Carlos Alcaraz arrived at the Miami Open presented by Itau at No. 16 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Twelve months on and the Spaniard is back in south Florida as the defending champion and World No. 1.
After triumphing in Indian Wells last week, all eyes will be on Alcaraz as he aims to remain in top spot and become the eighth player to win the Sunshine Double. With expectations high, the 19-year-old is taking everything in his stride.
“I don’t feel the pressure too much. I know the things I have to do,” said Alcaraz, who must win his fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown to hold onto No. 1, because he is dropping the 1000 points he won in Miami last year. “I need to play relaxed and not mind if I lose or if I play well or not.
“My goal is always the same. To feel comfortable on court. To enjoy playing tennis and try to have great thoughts when playing. And that is why I am playing at a good level. I am enjoying every single second and playing relaxed. That is what I am thinking about on court.”
Alcaraz produced lights-out tennis throughout his run to the title in California, becoming the first Indian Wells champion to not drop a set since Roger Federer in 2017, and the first to do so in at least six matches since Rafael Nadal in 2007.
Holding a 14-1 record on the season and back at No. 1, Alcaraz is a dominant force on the ATP Tour. However, he isn’t satisfied with his level yet as he continues to seek improvements in his already well-rounded game.
“I always say that you can improve everything a little bit more,” Alcaraz said during his pre-tournament press conference. “You have to improve, you have to get better every day. That is why the big players, the ‘Big Three’ for example, did throughout their careers, improving a bit every day.”
Alcaraz arrives at the hard-court event in Miami with fond memories, having soared to the title last year. The Spaniard defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud en route to the trophy, receiving vocal crowd support throughout.
“I have great supporters here. I remember last year was unbelievable feeling with the crowd,” Alcaraz said. “There are a lot of people who speak Spanish, so I feel at home. Playing here, great matches and against great players, it was an amazing run last year. I am really excited to come here in front of all the fans. I can’t wait.”
The top seed will begin his title defence against Facundo Bagnis or a qualifier and could face two-time Miami champion and former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the third round. The second ATP Masters 1000 event of the season starts on Wednesday. Novak Djokovic will return to World No. 1 if Alcaraz does not win the Miami title.
Preparations are ramping up ahead of the third World Tennis Conference, with many world class coaches signing up for the event.
Organised by the Global Professional Tennis Coaches Association (GPTCA) and the Segal Institute, the event will be held virtually from 30 March – 2 April. After a successful first two editions, the conference continues its mission to connect the world’s top high-performance tennis coaches and sports scientists with other coaches and people around the world.
The four-day programme is thoughtfully designed to raise the level of understanding surrounding player development, while helping ambitious tennis coaches on their journey of self-development.
Visit World Tennis Conference Website To Sign Up
Giles Cervara, Federic Fontang, Vincenzo Santopadre and Toni Nadal are among the 68 talented speakers participating. Hear from some of the coaches who are part of the event as they describe the importance of the conference.
Gilles Cervara – (Coach of World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev)
“I’m very pleased and honoured to be part of the third World Tennis Conference by GPTCA/SI supported by ATP. I am very grateful to be among all these great tennis coaches of the Tour. Congratulations to the organisation. I think it is very important to try to inspire and to help other coaches from all over the world to improve to be a better tennis coach day after day… This is my case too. I will be watching many WTC presentations to keep learning and improving my own style of coaching absorbing some other ideas. I’m glad to be connected and help coaches from all over the world who want to connect with me.”
Frederic Fontang – (Coach of World No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime)
“My perception about the importance of the World Tennis Conference by GPTCA/SI supported by ATP for three years now is that it’s important to share the knowledge between the coaches and committed people because it is an individual sport where we must take the habit to see and share our knowledge. You as a tennis coach must reflect, to put on paper your ideas, having a reflection on how to improve and of course to share that with other coaches and the tennis community. It is very important because tennis is growing and improving. When you give in general in life, you receive. I hope you will enjoy WTC3.”
Alberto Castellani – (Former coach of Rainer Schuettler, Marc Rosset, Hicham Arazi, Janko Tipsarevic and Ivo Karlovic)
“As GPTCA President and a tennis coach, I always believe that the tennis coach needs to know a lot of things. The knowledge has to improve during all their careers. I also said that the coach is like an artist. We must put together these two things. The coach must use imagination and creativity a lot of time to work on a lot of exercises, in every project and with the player´s relationship. Also, we need to use our social intelligence using empathy to everyone in our project. In the same way, we should use a scientific approach and rules of planification. We are artists and scientists together. This conference puts us in front of so many experts in different fields.”
Marco Panichi – (Physical coach of World No. 2 Novak Djokovic)
“The process of sharing information with an open mind to improve the training of players, as well as the processes and programmes, applied is a need and a common goal of each of us in our profession. In my third participation in the World Tennis Conference by GPTCA/SI with ATP support, I believe that we are on a path of continuous improvement, and I am honoured to be one of the many speakers who contribute their ideas and experience to develop more and better player projects.”
Vincenzo Santopadre – (Coach of World No. 23 Matteo Berrettini)
“I think all of us were born to be better each day. In that sense, it is important to observe what’s happening in the tennis world and in general to continue having an open mentality to keep learning and feel that we are going in the right pathway in our lives. We need to be curious, and passionate in what to do, to be ready to learn and grow especially in different areas. The World Tennis Conference is helping us a lot to listen to several ideas and concepts from others. This is a way to create growth having the will to be better each day by day with optimism and a positive mentality. The best I can wish for everybody is to have that kind of open mentality and to help each other.”
Liam Smith – (Former coach of Gael Monfils, Coco Gauff and Radu Albot)
“Tennis coaches getting together and sharing ideas, knowledge and experiences is incredibly valuable. There is always something to learn by no matter how long you have been coaching. There is always new ideas, and new ways to look at things from different perspectives and that is what makes coach conferences like World Tennis Conference so valuable. I am really looking forward to seeing all the presentations and I feel honoured to be part of the 3rd edition of WTC.”
Franco Davin – (Coach of World No. 45 Brandon Nakashima and WTA World No. 11 Veronika Kudermetova – Former coach of Juan Martin Del Potro and Gaston Gaudio)
“I believe in continuous learning in our profession. It is very important and good for our sport to have an event like the World Tennis Conference by GPTCA/SI with ATP Support. It is key to have important coaches on the circuit together with experts and legends all together giving their opinion, and sharing knowledge with everyone, since tennis is a sport that has so many edges to analyse and learn and it is very good for everyone to participate. This is a great conference and opportunity to be a better coach and I am very glad to be part of it.”
Dominik Hrbaty – (Slovakia Davis Cup captain)
“The World Tennis Conference is one of the best ways to learn, to see other approaches in tennis, and is a huge library of knowledge for me. It´s crazy how much you can find, how much you can search in all aspects of the game and just going on and on. Whatever you need to have with your player or you try to find some response to help someone like a coach, you can always find it there. I learned so much of it because I like to listen, I like to see different styles of different ways of other coaches.”
Nuno Borges is a man in a hurry. But success can put a spring in your step when you need to hustle.
Within 24 hours, the Portuguese World No. 68 went from winning the ATP 175 Challenger title in Phoenix, Arizona in America’s south-west to winning a first-round qualifying match at the Miami Open presented by Itau, the ATP Masters 1000 event in south-east Florida.
“When I won that second match on Saturday I knew it would be complicated,” Borges said. “There were not many options and the direct flights were fully booked and I knew I had to play Monday. Thankfully I got a late start.”
By the time Borges defeated Alexander Shevchenko in Sunday’s three-set final of the Arizona Tennis Classic, it was already 7pm in Miami. He was due on court to play Steve Johnson at 4.30pm Monday.
“We went back to the hotel, got some food, then headed to the airport for a flight at 11.20pm (Pacific time, 2.30am Miami time). Borges landed in Atlanta at 5.30am ET for a 7.10am connection. And then there was a hiccup.
“We got on the plane and we had a 30-minute wait and then we were told we would need to change planes due to a technical issue. For a second I had a thought that I wouldn’t make it to today’s match,” he said.
Borges landed in Miami around 11am, headed to the hotel for a quick nap and then took the 2pm shuttle to the site.
“I didn’t properly warm up to be honest. Just got a feel for the court with a 20-30 minute hit at 3,” he said. “Headed to physio, had a quick warm up and somehow played a great match. I felt better than I expected, to be honest. I’ve got a lot of confidence from the matches I played last week and before that.
“I probably got about 4 ½ hours total sleep. Maybe two hours on the first flight, 90 minutes on the second flight and then an hour’s nap at the hotel.”
Borges is on a 10-match winning streak at the Challenger level, having also won the title in Monterrey, Mexico. And he is sitting at a career-high in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The top seed in Miami qualifying on Tuesday plays Croatian Borna Gojo for a place in the main draw.