Clay-court titles in Barcelona and Madrid have put Carlos Alcaraz in good stead for a shot at the Roland-Garros crown, Mats Wilander believes.
The 20-year-old’s preparation has been “perfect” according to the three-time French Open champion, despite falling short at the Italian Open in Rome.
Wilander has insisted that Alcaraz is in the ideal shape, physically and mentally, to take aim at the vacant French Open trophy thanks to Rafael Nadal’s absence.
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But the US Open champion will face a tough test in Novak Djokovic, who will be seeking a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title.
“For Carlos Alcaraz, I think the preparation actually is perfect,” Wilander explained. “Rome wasn’t that great, but he lost because his opponent hit unbelievably hard and played a great match because he [Alcaraz] won in Barcelona and in Madrid.
“I think [his] confidence is very high. He has [had] about two weeks, maybe even slightly more to rest before he starts.
“The strange thing for Novak Djokovic, for example, is that the crowd, fans, and the media are going to go to Roland-Garros, and of course, everybody wants to witness a record being broken, but I think people want to witness a new champion.
“A new 20-year-old player in Carlos, across a new champion at Roland-Garros because Novak is coming at a strange time.
“If it was only Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Sasha Zverev and that generation, I think most people would like to see Novak win,” Wilander added. “But because Carlos is there, I think most people want to see him win because we don’t know what to expect.”
He overcame Medvedev in the Indian Wells final and Tsitsipas in the Barcelona final – both in straight sets – and Wilander heaped further praise on Alcaraz, who he believes might be one of “the most exciting tennis players to have ever walked on a tennis court”.
He said: “The anticipation level of people when they watch Carlos Alcaraz play – I have never experienced another tennis player where the fans are so enthusiastic about a tennis player, whether it’s a male player or a female player.
“To me, Carlos Alcaraz seems to be the most exciting tennis player that has ever walked on a tennis court, and maybe more so because we don’t really know if he’s going to be a great champion or he’s going to be stuck maybe just winning the US Open once.”
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