“Even if Nadal had been there, I would have given myself no less chance of winning,” says Carlos Alcaraz
The world number 1 is favorite for a first Roland-Garros title after failing in the quarterfinals of the previous edition.
Winner in Barcelona and then in Madrid, Carlos Alcaraz arrives for the 2023 edition of Roland-Garros as the favorite alongside Novak Djokovic. The 20-year-old Spaniard, unexpectedly beaten by Fabian Marozsan in Rome, proclaims his ambitions, in the presence or absence of the local king, Rafael Nadal. “Even if Rafael Nadal had been there, I would have given myself no less chance of winning”said the number 1 in the world, on Friday 26 May, two days before the Parisian Grand Slam, where he will face Flavio Cobolli, from the qualifiers, in the first round.
For the first time you are the No. 1 seed in a Grand Slam…
Carlos Alcaraz : It’s crazy. To be the No. 1 seed at a Grand Slam is incredible. I’ve worked for it, to get there, to get to the top, so I’m happy. But I don’t feel pressure anymore because I’m No. 1 in the world or No. 1 seeded. I know very well why I’m here, what I have to do, how I have to play, how I feel: not so much focusing on wanting to get a good result to stay number 1 or something like that, but play my game, have fun. And the good results will come from there. I’d say I’m more mature than last year, mentally I’m better and I read better what’s happening on the pitch, it’s very important to me.
What changes the absence of Rafael Nadal in your approach?
Obviously when “Rafa” is here, in his tournament, it’s more complicated… But I’ve always said that I’ve never been afraid of anyone, and even if he had been there, I wouldn’t have given less chance of winning the tournament. I’m so ambitious… And as I said, I don’t feel much pressure either because the eyes are more on me now, in the absence of ‘Rafa’ or simply because people expect a lot from me. I try not to think about it, I just play my game and enjoy it.
How did you react to his withdrawal?
I felt sad when I learned that “Rafa” couldn’t play at Roland-Garros or probably for the rest of the season. As a tennis fan, I always want to see “Rafa” play, I always want to see the best players. And it’s nice to learn from them, in the locker room, behind the scenes at tournaments. When I found out, it was hard to imagine what this year (Roland-Garros) would have been like without “Rafa”. Hope to see him next year 100%.
Does the idea of a double with him at next year’s Olympics inspire you?
It would obviously be a dream to be able to play doubles with “Rafa” at next year’s Olympics. It’s in a year, both for him and for me, a lot can happen, but I hope we will both be at the Olympics.