Ferrero: 'Alcaraz Is A Ferocious Competitor'

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2022

Ferrero: ‘Alcaraz Is A Ferocious Competitor’

Spaniard’s coach analyses his current form

Carlos Alcaraz had a day of recovery away from Flushing Meadows on Thursday ahead of his semi-final clash against Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. The Spaniard, who defeated Jannik Sinner in five sets, saving a match point during an epic, five-hour, 15-minute encounter, spent the day with his team and family, eating, resting and recovering from battle.

“Today, we decided not to practise any tennis so that he can rest, above all his muscular system,” explained Juan Carlos Ferrero, the coach of the 19-year-old. “He was feeling the effects this morning, tired, but nothing serious.”

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Alcaraz’s mentor must surely have also been tired after going through the roller-coaster of emotions from the stands of the Arthur Ashe stadium?

“On Wednesday, we went through a lot of stress, but we’re really excited,” said Ferrero. “It was a tremendous match, sublime, from both of them. Watching previous matches with him, I knew it would be very difficult and would be decided by the fine details.

“It’s true that a lot of things happened later. Carlos could have taken the match in three sets, but we found ourselves two-sets-to-one down. It was getting very difficult to come back. Carlos outdid himself mentally. He had some very tough moments during the fourth and fifth, but he handled them perfectly.

“It’s one of the best matches I’ve seen, because of the constant intensity and the difficulty of the opponent. They fed off each other and forced each other to improve. They are going to be two of the biggest players in the next 10 years, with due respect to those that are there. They’re at a very, very high level. There are other players that are close, but I think they will be the two dominant players on Tour in the future. He [Alcaraz] is a ferocious competitor. He competes to the end of every match. When it finished, I told him I was very proud of how he handled it.”

At the end of the second set in the match, Alcaraz conjured up a stunning shot, hitting the ball behind his back from the baseline before winning the point with a backhand pass.

“It was an amazing shot,” said Ferrero. “I’ve enjoyed how he plays since he started with me. I know that he will have those moments of genius. I always give him free rein to be creative, not a robot. Those things come naturally to him.”

However, Ferrero also acknowledged that they practise those challenging shots. “We call it Hot Shot,” he admitted. “We often rehearse those kinds of shots in training in case they come up. We joke about appearing on Tennis TV as the Hot Shot of the week. They are natural shots that he comes up with, but you have to have skill.”

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That “skill”, together with many other things, has made Alcaraz into a magnet for the fans, who pack out the stands whenever he takes to the court.

“He has a special way of connecting with people, it’s really magnetic,” said Ferrero. “The way he gives his all on court and plays, with that intensity and speed in his shots. He can do so many things during a match and that’s what people are entertained by. I enjoy watching him play, and I’ve been involved in the world of tennis for so long.”

Although Alcaraz has a great opportunity in front of him, being just two matches away from winning his first Grand Slam and a chance to become the youngest World No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Ferrero is in no doubt about the path he should take.

“We don’t talk about any of that,” offered the Spaniard. “We don’t get ahead of ourselves. We know the opportunity he has ahead of him. He immerses himself, trying to improve his tennis every day and he enjoys himself on court. His joy on court is what makes him play well. It’s still quite a long way off and there’s so much to do to achieve it.

“Mentally, he’s ready to win a Grand Slam and to be No. 1, but you have to keep working hard and keep your head down all the time, maintaining that humility that he has.”

In keeping with these ideas, Ferrero wants to avoid overburdening his understudy, choosing to take things step by step.

“He has to find his way, let’s not make things even more difficult for him,” pleaded Ferrero. “The first step is to win a major. From there, consolidating the belief that he can win at every Grand Slam he plays. That’s what the best players do, really focusing on the goal of winning every time they go to a tournament.

“Hopefully, Carlos puts himself in that situation. He has a chance to win so much, but then you have to go out and do it. There are so many players that will make it difficult like Sinner, Kyrgios, Tsitsipas, Zverev… In the coming years there will be plenty of players who can win a major, it won’t be like the past decade.”

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