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Alcaraz First-Person Essay: 'I Am Ambitious And My Goals Are Big'

  • Posted: Mar 22, 2023

Alcaraz First-Person Essay: ‘I Am Ambitious And My Goals Are Big’

Spaniard drew inspiration from Nadal & Djokovic, who made immediate impacts after coming back from injury

In the latest Players’ Voice first-person essay, Carlos Alcaraz provides Eurosport with insight into his mindset coming back from injury and his big ambitions in the sport. Below is an excerpt, reproduced with permission from Eurosport.

The injury has been a learning process. I had to be calm and it has helped me to mature a lot off the court. These were not easy days for me, they were quite hard. I had to stay focused and train to come back stronger. During my recovery, as I have done on several occasions, I worked a lot with my psychologist. She helps me a lot both on and off the court. The off-court side is almost more important, as you spend most of your time there.

I thought a lot about Nadal when I was recovering from my injury. Often when the best players have been out for a long time, they win their first tournament back. I wanted to be one of those players. Those examples of successful returns have motivated me – like what Rafa did at the 2022 Australian Open, and when Djokovic has returned from absences, he has won important tournaments. These examples are inspirations to think, ‘let’s get back training’ because I also want to come back the best I can to try to win…

… In Miami, I’m going to have to start defending a lot of points. I think about that subconsciously because you want to be at the top of the rankings. But together with my team, we have always said that the important thing is the race to the Nitto ATP Finals. If you have a good year in the race, you will finish high in the rankings. I don’t worry too much about defending points, I just think about enjoying the tournament I am playing, and trying to do the best I can…

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…I want to beat Nadal and Djokovic, but I am not here to take any Grand Slams away from them or prevent either of them from being the best of all time. I am just trying to write my own history.

I want to win Slams. I am ambitious and my goals are big, I’m not going to lie. My dream is to be one of the best in history, to try to get somehow close to them. I know it will be very complicated – maybe even impossible – but in this world you have to think big and dream big. In the end, that is my dream today.

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Nakashima Powers Past Otte In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 22, 2023

Nakashima Powers Past Otte In Miami

Home favourite meets Davidovich Fokina in second round

Brandon Nakashima brought his big-hitting best to his opening match Wednesday at the 2023 Miami Open presented by Itau, where the American prevailed 7-6(3), 6-3 against Oscar Otte to reach the second round at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

The 21-year-old Nakashima was rock-solid for much of an 88-minute encounter that was largely dominated by serve and raised his level during two crucial periods in the match to secure his victory. He fired a series of clean winners to dominate the first-set tie-break before striking some high-class returns to clinch the only break of serve in the match in the sixth game of the second set.

Nakashima did not face a break point en route to victory in his maiden ATP Head2Head clash with Germany’s Otte. The World No. 45 fired 28 winners, including 10 aces, to set a second-round matchup against 20th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

It was a welcome triumph for Nakashima, who will hope he can use it as a basis for improved results in a 2023 season for which he now holds a 3-4 record. The Californian is seeking to back up his strong 2022, when he clinched his maiden ATP Tour title in his hometown of San Diego before lifting the Next Gen ATP Finals trophy in Milan.

It will be a second tour-level meeting of the season between Nakashima and Davidovich Fokina. The Spaniard was a straight-sets winner in their January meeting at the Adelaide International 2.

Taro Daniel also advanced to the second round on Wednesday after the Japanese wild card’s opponent Arthur Rinderknech retired from the pair’s first-round match when trailing 1-4 in the opening set.

Daniel, who reached the third round as a qualifier last week in Indian Wells with a run that included a victory against Matteo Berrettini, will play 13th seed Alexander Zverev next.

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With 40% Upside, Holger Rune's Game Is a Strong Buy

  • Posted: Mar 22, 2023

With 40% Upside, Holger Rune’s Game Is a Strong Buy

Dane starts debut Miami campaign against Cachin or Fucsovics

An ATP Masters 1000 champion, Grand Slam quarter-finalist and World No. 8 by the age of 19, Holger Rune has made a sudden impact on the ATP Tour.

But asked to assess how much of his potential had been fulfilled, the Dane suggested that there was plenty of upside left to come, reflecting his strong desire to succeed and delivering a clear message of intent to his rivals.

“I think [I have reached] maybe 55 or 60 per cent [of my potential],” said Rune. “I’m 19, so I feel like I have a lot to learn still. When I’m out there playing, I feel still like I can be a lot better, which is in a way nice but sometimes frustrating.

“I just have to look at it as a positive thing. I’m No. 8 in the world now, and I’ve reached I think maybe 55 or 60 per cent of my potential, so it’s a positive thing.”

Rune acknowledged that setbacks like his three-set defeat to Stan Wawrinka in the third round at Indian Wells will only help him on his mission to reach a higher level. He will put any new learnings from that loss to the test this week on debut at the Miami Open presented by Itau, where he takes on Marton Fucsovics or Pedro Cachin in his opening match.

“I didn’t play very well, but credit to Stan, he beat me,” said Rune, who is 10-7 for the 2023 season, of the Wawrinka defeat. “You have those kinds of matches sometimes, and you just have to learn a little bit from it and move on as quickly as possible.

“I’ve done that pretty well here [in Miami]. We’ve had a lot of good practice sessions, I feel ready, ready to go out there and have fun. It’s the last hard-court tournament before the clay season, so I’m just going to enjoy it as much as I can.”

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Rune’s rapid progress in the past 12 months makes him something of an anomaly on Tour. He is a Top 10 player and won the 2022 Rolex Paris Masters, but has still only competed in the main draw of five of the nine ATP Masters 1000 events. That will become six out of nine this week, when he hopes to add some more positive memories to his mixed past experiences in Miami.

“I never played the junior tournaments [here], like the Orange Bowl, so I came here for the first time for a pre-season that Patrick [Mouratoglou] invited me to,” explained Rune. “The second time was last year here. I only got to play 20 minutes, unfortunately I was injured, in the first round of qualifying, but now I’m here as the seventh seed so it’s a bit of a better feeling this year.

“I’ve played almost all the biggest tournaments in the main draws now. This is a very special tournament, so it’s definitely one I would like to see myself win in future. It’s a great event, I really enjoy being in Miami and I cannot wait to start.”

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Fast-Learner Shelton Vows To Stop Opponents 'Picking On' His Game

  • Posted: Mar 22, 2023

Fast-Learner Shelton Vows To Stop Opponents ‘Picking On’ His Game

American faces Mannarino or Shang in first round at ATP Masters 1000 event

Win or lose, Ben Shelton is making sure he learns from every aspect of his rookie season on the ATP Tour.

The #NextGenATP star is preparing for the second half of his ‘Sunshine Double’ debut this week at the Miami Open presented by Itau. A three-set second-round loss to No. 1-ranked American Taylor Fritz in Indian Wells 10 days ago has done little to dent the 20-year-old Shelton’s confidence as he seeks to continue his rapid rise.

“I definitely took a lot from it,” said Shelton, now at a career-high No. 39 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, of his battle with Fritz in California. “It definitely gave me some confidence, playing someone who was No. 5 in the world, [in a match] that tight. I thought I played a great match, but also I could see some ways that he exposed me or that he picked on.

“[It was good] being able to get that feedback and knowing the things that I’m going to have to improve if I want to compete with the best. I’m always excited when I get to match up with a guy like that who has had so much success lately, so I was happy to be able to play that match.”

In May 2022, Shelton was a college student and the No. 573 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Across a stellar past 10 months, during which he has lifted three ATP Challenger Tour titles, defeated the then-World No. 5 Casper Ruud in Cincinnati, and reached the quarter-finals on debut at the Australian Open, Shelton has rocketed to a career-high No. 39.

That rapid progress has granted the American direct entry to a host of unfamiliar tour-level events (prior to flying to New Zealand in January, he had never even left the United States). Despite the fact he played college tennis just a five-hour drive from Miami at the University of Florida in Gainesville, even this week’s ATP Masters 1000 event at Hard Rock Stadium will be a completely new experience for Shelton.

“It’s a pretty great stadium, I like the set-up here,” said the American, who takes on Adrian Mannarino or Shang Juncheng as the 32nd seed in his Miami opener. “There’s a lot of space, it’s spread out, everything’s really nice. It’s actually my first time being down at the stadium for anything, so I’m enjoying it so far. It’s been good weather, and I’m really looking forward to hopefully playing some good tennis here.”

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Shelton’s meteoric rise has coincided with that of another recent breakout star on Tour, Wu Yibing. Wu, who became the first Chinese ATP Tour titlist in Dallas in February this year, defeated Shelton in the championship match of an ATP Challenger Tour event in the U.S. state of Georgia last July. Despite the tension of that first on-court meeting and their emergence as potential rivals on court in future, the pair has become good friends .

“[Our friendship is] really cool,” said Shelton. “We go back-and-forth. I try to tell him that he’s better than me, and he tries to tell me that I’m better than him. So we’re really good friends and I like seeing him in the locker room. I’ve been calling him GQ lately because he was doing all the modelling in China!

“He’s a great guy, it was really cool to see what he’s been doing, getting an ATP title in Dallas. It’s pretty impressive, so let’s call him the King of Dallas.”

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Inside Wu's Mindset: 'It's Not About Winning Or Losing'

  • Posted: Mar 22, 2023

Inside Wu’s Mindset: ‘It’s Not About Winning Or Losing’

The 23-year-old in 2023 became highest-ranked Chinese man in history

The first time Wu Yibing stepped on court to compete in an ATP Tour event was in Miami Open presented by Itau qualifying six years ago, when he was 17 and the tournament was held at Crandon Park. The Chinese player had just reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open boys’ singles event and was one of the top juniors in the world.

“I remember before the match I was talking with my coach. I thought I came here [playing] pretty good. I remember I played [Jared] Donaldson. It was a pretty tough match,” Wu told “I did a lot of preparation… He was playing very good at that time and I was still young.

“I couldn’t handle his ball and after the match I was sad because it was such a good opportunity to play Masters [1000] qualies. It feels like a long time ago. A really long time ago.”

Donaldson won the match 6-2, 6-2 in 62 minutes. Wu went back to work on his game.

Six years later, the Chinese star is ready for his first appearance at the ATP Masters 1000 event since, and things could not be more different. Not only has his life changed immensely since that match, but it has developed significantly over just the past year.

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This week last season, Wu was tied for No. 1,869 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings due to three years of injury struggles and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now he is World No. 64. One month ago, he reached World No. 58, making him the highest-ranked Chinese man in history.

Wu is under a bright spotlight — especially back home — as one of the top young talents on the ATP Tour. But you would never know it based on how the 23-year-old carries himself, always walking around tournament sites with a smile, and often cracking jokes.

“I think off [the] court there is pressure. People have higher expectations and also me and my team [do], even my family [does]. But I think I’ll be okay because I don’t really see [those] things in a negative way,” Wu said. “If you want to be at the top, it’s not the biggest problem to worry about and I think I have the potential and I trust myself and my team, so things are going to work out if I do [things] the right way, especially keeping myself healthy.”

At his roots, Wu, who will play Kyle Edmund Wednesday, loves what he does. That passion helped him through the tough times and continues to motivate him today.

“I think I still love tennis as much as I used to,” Wu said. “Maybe sometimes I complained about the situations that I had, maybe I didn’t feel good sometimes and I started doubting myself. But now I don’t do that anymore because things come for a reason. You need to find the answer.

“Even when I played Futures or Challengers, I still enjoyed tennis. It’s not about winning or losing. I think some parts of the fun are not always about winning. You want to win. The winning feeling feels the best. But it’s also not bad to lose sometimes. It gives you more energy to practise, to become a better player or person. Nobody can win all the time. Sometimes it’s how you take it when you lose.”

That attitude has paid off during Wu’s rapid ascent. In February, he debuted inside the world’s Top 100. That same week, Wu became the first Chinese titlist in ATP Tour history at the Dallas Open.

The Hangzhou-native has come a long way since he was a junior with a poster on his wall featuring several ATP Tour stars including Roger Federer and David Nalbandian. Marcos Baghdatis was also featured, and the Cypriot recently began working with Wu.

The Chinese star also had something else at home: a world map. Wu drew a plane’s path on it from Melbourne to Paris, London and New York, noting the locations of the four Grand Slams. Now Wu is travelling the world as one of the best players in the world.

“It’s pretty funny,” Wu said, cracking a laugh. “I wouldn’t say it’s a dream come true. It’s more like hard work paid off.”

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