Among the revelations of tennis 2021 it is difficult not to mention Carlos Alcaraz. The young Spanish tennis player, after passing the qualifiers, played and won his first match in a Grand Slam tournament against Botic van de Zandschulp at the Australian Open.
Before repeating the same result at Roland Garros, Alcaraz pushed himself to the semifinals in Marbella. The 18-year-old didn't shine on the grass, but he definitely found a way to redeem himself on American hard court when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and reached the quarter-finals at the US Open.
In the last part of the season, Alcaraz finally won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan without too many problems and only the positivity at Covid-19 prevented him from representing Spain in the Davis Cup; Spain who then left the historic team event before the quarter-finals due to the decisive defeat against Russia.
Alcaraz grew up watching the games of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal; and it was impossible for him not to get carried away by their rivalries. In the last episode of Player's Voice, the Eurosport series, the Spaniard talked about the Big 3.
"Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are great athletes and great people. When Djokovic said that what I had achieved was incredible, I was left without words. After I sent him a message to thank him for his words", explained Alcaraz recalling the nice words the Serbian said towards him at the end of the season.
"Federer? I am a bit similar to him for the dynamism on the pitch; for aggressive play, often at net and in drops. He can do anything at any time and it's something I feel I can do too. The first time I met Nadal it was at the Rafa Nadal Tour, during an awards ceremony and I was unable to speak to him."
Djokovic was seen practicing
During the interview, Novak Djokovic revealed that he had planned a dinner for his entire team after the US Open final.
But the loss left him devastated and he didn't want to go. “I had a nice team dinner planned for after the US Open final. I was so emotionally wrecked that I didn’t want to go. But everyone cheered me up and I went.
Monica Seles called me crying. It ended up being quite a long, emotional night - it eased my mind,” he said. Despite failing to complete the Calendar Slam and secure a gold medal in the Olympics, 2021 was arguably Djokovic's best-ever season.
“Even with painful losses in the second half of the season, I felt the love and support of so many people. It brought me a lot of positivity. Looking back on 2021, this was one of my personal highlights. I’m choosing to focus on that rather than on those losses”.