'He wasn't afraid to beat Rafael Nadal', says former star

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'He wasn't afraid to beat Rafael Nadal', says former star
'He wasn't afraid to beat Rafael Nadal', says former star (Provided by Tennis World USA)

Carlos Alcaraz left everyone speechless at the start of 2022, winning two Masters 1000 (Miami and Madrid) and two ATP 500 (Rio and Barcelona). After the splendid ride to the Caja Magica, in which he beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, the very young Spaniard decided to skip the BNL Internationals of Italy to recharge his batteries in view of Roland Garros.

According to several players and insiders, Juan Carlos Ferrero's protégé is the strongest in the world right now. The 19 year old from Murcia occupies the second position in the Race and is very close to his compatriot Nadal.

After a splendid start to the season, the fractured rib in Indian Wells slowed Rafa's progression. The 35-year-old from Manacor will go on the hunt for his 14th seal in Paris, but it will not be easy to stop the 'Carlitos' race.

Also worth keeping an eye on is Djokovic, called to defend the title he won last year. During a long interview with 'Le Soir', Justine Henin spent nice words for Alcaraz.

Henin opens up on Carlos Alcaraz

"So there are a lot of things that impress me about Carlos Alcaraz.

He is only 19 years old, but he shows a maturity that is really disconcerting! What is amazing about him is his learning speed, it's the adjustment. Day by day, you could see that he was evolving in his tennis, in the little mistakes he had been able to make, and progress like that, so quickly, it's amazing." The 39-year-old Belgian stated that despite the youngster's respect for Rafael Nadal, Alcaraz did not shy away from taking on his idol on the court.

"Even if, if we talk about intensity, Alcaraz has fed on the energy that his elder can provide. We could also talk about the mentality and the approach to the game which are comparable. He has a monumental respect for Rafael Nadal, but he wasn't afraid to beat him either when he had the chance last Friday!

He remains humble, but not erased, and that promises." Henin added that expectations for Alcaraz at Roland Garros are high: "Expectations are there ahead of Roland-Garros, but there are plenty of reassuring signs. While he has just won in Barcelona, then in Madrid, he is resting by not going to play in Rome, to better prepare for Paris.

At 19, you have to know how to make this decision, when you are in a very positive spiral. Roland-Garros will be a first real challenge, but we have seen that he likes it."

Rafael Nadal