#NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz will lead the field at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan as he aims to capture the trophy on his debut at the event.
The 18-year-old has flourished under the guidance of coach Juan Carlos Ferrero this year, clinching his maiden tour-level title in Umag, before he enjoyed a run to his first major quarter-final at the US Open.
The World No. 35, who has earned Top 10 wins against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner in 2021, caught up with ATPTour.com ahead of competing in Milan.
A lot of the #NextGenATP players have been doing amazing things this year. How much does it motivate you, seeing other young players doing well? Is there anyone in particular who has really impressed you?
I’ve watched previous editions and I know that great players have come here that are now in Turin or are among the best in the world. To me, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will join them there. But it’s a tournament that’s a bonus and an experience that’ll be worth having in the future. I was impressed with Tsitsipas and [Andrey] Rublev, for example. I think their rise was fantastic. Players like that really do grab your attention. At the moment they are among the best in the world and it’s true that they have had the experience of playing in this tournament. But I’m purely focused on my own journey. I know that one tournament isn’t going to change my career
When you were growing up there was Roger, Rafa and Novak, who created great rivalries. As you’re competing with other #NextGenATP players, have you thought about your budding rivalries and playing against them for many years?
Having good rivalries on Tour is something you always dream of. Wanting to be good enough, avoiding defeat, all of this drives you forward. Your rivals give you extra motivation every day to be an increasingly better player. At the end of the season it’s a little harder after a whole year travelling. Having these kinds of tournaments and that rivalry with your peers helps you to stay focused for a long time.
Have you watched the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals before and if so, what were your thoughts?
I’ve watched this tournament on TV and I’ve always loved it. They put on a great show, the lights and the fans create a wonderful atmosphere. The format is also conducive to a lot of excitement. Personally, I like it.
The Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals always has many innovations. Were there any that you particularly enjoyed and look forward to using and if so, why?
My favourite rule is the coaching on court. It would be one of the things I would like to keep at tournaments. I think it’s a very interesting initiative. In all sports, both individual and team, there is a coach who can give you advice. It’d be good to see tennis take that step and let coaches form part of the match.
When you think of Italy, what do you think of?
Honestly, the food. The pasta, the pizza… that would be one of the first things that comes to my mind. We are careful about what we eat and after working hard in training and matches, it’s a pleasure to be in a country where the food is so good. Personally, I really enjoy it whenever I come to Italy.
Have you ever been sight-seeing in Italy and if so, what was your favorite place to visit?
I was here a couple of years ago and I was able to visit some places, although I didn’t manage to do too much. If I have some time I’d like to go out and visit something. I’ve heard that Milan has some very interesting places, although I haven’t managed to come as a tourist until now. I’ve been in a few cities on the ATP Challenger Tour, like Florence and Trieste, and I really liked what I was able to see. I hope to have the chance to see Rome properly.
What’s your favourite Italian food?
The pasta and the pizza. They are masters of it here. I have to make the most of it while I’m in the country.