Dozens of people watch from the landings of the Philippe Chatrier stairs to track 5, full of fans. At the door, they crowd more, waiting for an opportunity to enter. The cause of so much expectation, at the level that Rafa Nadal always arouses, It is the training of Carlos Alcarazthe world tennis sensation, who shares the session with the Pole Hubert Hurkacz under a blazing sun. At the end of the rehearsal, with a fun game and in an atmosphere of jokes and good humor, the boy signs autographstakes photos and gives away wristbands and balls before escorted by guards through a crowd and acclaimed by fans: “Carlos, Carlos, Carlos…”.
The status that the 19-year-old from Murcia experiences for the first time at Roland Garros is that of a star. He has a lot to do with it, in addition to his excellent season (28-3, 16-1 on clay and four titles), the cover and the report with special envoys to El Palmar that he dedicated to him in his Friday edition L’Equipewith the title ‘Hunger for ochre’, referring to the color of the clay. Yesterday he published an article in which former tennis player Mats Wilander says that he has taken “the best of the Big Three (Nadal, Federer and Djokovic)”. The Parisian newspaper considers him “one of the main favourites”. “The fact that they believe I can win in Paris motivates me and more than pressure is an encouragement to give everything,” Carlos said a few days ago in Cartagena, where he was awarded as Best Sportsman in the Region of Murcia. To get closer to the target size, he will have to start by winning this Sunday at the start of the major French (around 18:00, Eurosport) to Juan Ignacio Londero, 28-year-old Argentine and 141st in the world, who had to play the previous one three years after reaching the round of 16 in the Bologna Forest, a round in which he was dropped by Nadal.
a protected idol
The fact that Alcaraz is the protagonist of the match of the day in the last turn of the center is another proof of the consideration with which the tournament treats him. His team has shielded him in the previous one. He did not participate in the media day. He is focused and his teammates enjoy sharing the preparation with him. Novak Djokovic, world number one whom he beat at the Mutua Madrid Open, trained with Alcaraz on Friday. He is his potential rival in the semifinals if Nadal, or someone else before him, does not prevent him. Charly, who is accompanied by his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, his physio, Juanjo Moreno, and his agent, Albert Molina, is staying at the same hotel as the Balearicwho has almost always given Rafa luck, enough to be a 13-time champion.
Alcaraz starts his third Roland Garros with the aura of an idol, seventh Grand Slam for him. In 2020 he lost in the first round against the Australian Vukic; last year he played the qualy and fell in third against the German Struff. A course later he is the favorite and his evolution is starry. “I did not imagine that it would be the third of the year (in the race) by now.” That says it all.
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