Carlos Alcaraz is a name tennis fans may not have heard much 12 months ago, but it’s one they’ll be hearing more of in the years to come.
The 18-year-old is enjoying a breakout 2022 with recent triumphs in Miami and Barcelona seeing him become the youngest player since Rafael Nadal in 2005 to crack the ATP top 10.
Like Nadal, Alcaraz is also Spanish and boasts similar attributes to the tennis icon.
While Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, has warned against comparisons between the two, he is quickly becoming Spain’s new star on the court.
Carlos Alcaraz’s rankings rise and title wins
In April 2021, Alcaraz was ranked as low as 133rd as the teenager tried to find his feet on tour.
Fast forward 12 months and the 18-year-old is now ranked ninth in the world.
Alcaraz won his first ATP title at the Croatia Open in July 2021 and also made it to the US Open quarter-finals later that year.
The Spaniard began 2022 by making the third round of the Australian Open before going on to win the Rio Open a month later.
After reaching the semi-finals of the Indian Wells Masters, Alcaraz would win the Miami Open in April – his first ATP 1000 title while also becoming the youngest men’s champion in the tournament’s history.
The teenager has also quickly shown his ability on clay, bouncing back from a second-round exit in Monte Carlo to win the Barcelona Open which sealed his rise into the ATP top 10.
Carlos Alcaraz vs Rafael Nadal
The two Spaniards have inevitably been compared and have already faced off twice on tour with Nadal triumphing both times.
Their most recent meeting at Indian Wells earlier this year saw Alcaraz win the second set before Nadal stormed back to win 6-4 4-6 6-3.
Speaking prior to that semi-final clash, Nadal heaped plenty of praise upon the young Spaniard.
“I think he’s unstoppable in terms of his career. He has all the ingredients. He has the passion. He’s humble enough to work hard. He’s a good guy,” Nadal said.
“He (reminds) me a lot of things than when I was 17 or 18-year-old kid. I think he has the passion. He has the talent and the physical component and that’s great. And I am super happy, even, of course he’s going to be a great rival for now and for the next couple of months, without a doubt.
“Thinking and being selfish, it’s great, honestly, to have such a star from my country, because we, for the tennis lovers, we’re going to keep enjoy an amazing player fighting for the most important titles for the next many years, a lot of years. That’s my feeling, from my point of view.
“That’s fantastic for the tennis lovers and he’s a countryman and he’s a great guy.”
What’s next for Carlos Alcaraz?
After breaking into the top 10, Alcaraz will be looking to continue his winning ways ahead of the French Open in May.
The Spaniard is expected to chase more silverware on home soil at the Madrid Open which will conclude on May 8.
Success there will set Alcaraz up nicely for Roland-Garros, where he made the third round in 2021.
Now ranked inside the top 10 and with a maiden ATP 1000 title to his name, a Grand Slam will no doubt be the next priority for the teenager, who has quickly shown he’s a player to watch closely moving forward.