Carlos Alcaraz Has Roger Federer In His Sights In New York | ATP Tour

Since the beginning of tennis’ open era (1968), only two players have won 14 of their first 15 matches at the US Open: Arthur Ashe and Carlos Alcaraz.

The connection between the legendary American, whose name graces centre court at the season’s final Grand Slam, and the current No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings perfectly reflects the Spaniard’s astonishing form; having won 22 of the 23 matches he has played this year on the biggest stages (Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open), he is riding a huge wave of confidence. Could Alcaraz be the first person to defend his title in New York since Roger Federer did so in 2008?

“Federer was the last one?” said a surprised Alcaraz when he was informed of the stat. “Well, I have to use that as motivation. It really would be incredible to share that achievement with him. We’ll try and do it. It’s a pretty positive incentive for me.”

The numbers do not lie. Since Federer managed to defend his title, in 2008, nobody that has claimed the crown at the US Open has been able to keep the throne the following year, including Novak Djokovic (2011, 2015, 2018) and Rafael Nadal (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019).

“Obviously I’m taking it day by day,” explained Alcaraz, who will face Matteo Arnaldi in the fourth round. “Defending the title here is a goal for me. I know nobody has done that since Federer, so I would love to form part of the tournament’s history with Roger. It’s my main goal right now and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Alcaraz is vying to claim two titles on the trot at Flushing Meadows, a stronghold that seems far less willing to yield a double than any of the other major venues. At the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon there have been frequent double winners (Djokovic in Melbourne and London, and Nadal in Paris). The US Open double is a tougher nut to crack, perhaps because it is the final Grand Slam of the year and the players are running on fumes after a demanding season.

Whatever the reason, Alcaraz is on track to join Federer. Thus far, the Spaniard has reached the fourth round, after beating Daniel Evans in four sets. The experience of his victory in New York last year is clearly proving invaluable for the 20-year-old.

“Last year I’d never played a Grand Slam semi-final until the US Open, now I’ve played several and I have two titles. I know how to handle certain rounds and situations. I feel like a more mature player, but I’ve also grown as a person,” explained Alcaraz.

“In one year, a lot of things have changed. People know me better, when I go out, I get stopped more compared to 2022, but above all I feel like a different player, more mature. I know how to solve problems and I see the game differently from the inside. That’s very important.”

Since 2008, when Federer defended his title, there have been nine different champions at the US Open, including Juan Martin del Potro (2009), Marin Cilic (2014), Dominic Thiem (2020), and Daniil Medvedev (2021), all of whom won their only Grand Slam in New York. Alcaraz did likewise in 2022, but this year he claimed his second at Wimbledon and is now bidding to unlock a new achievement at Flushing Meadows; mounting a successful title defence and joining the great Roger Federer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *