Rafael Nadal became the world's second-best player behind Roger Federer in 2005. A teenager followed Federer's pace and claimed 11 ATP titles, including his first Major crown and four Masters 1000 trophies. Rafa conquered Roland Garros a couple of days after turning 19, backed by titles in Monte Carlo, Rome, Montreal and Madrid.
It was one of the finest seasons for teenagers in the Open era, and his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz is following it closely 17 years later! The 19-year-old has won 28 out of 31 matches in 2022, securing two Masters 1000 titles as the youngest player since Nadal in the mentioned season.
Alcaraz will be among the title favorites at Roland Garros, heading to Paris as world no. 6 and setting eyes on high goals following the Madrid Masters trophy. Comparing Carlos and Rafa, a seven-time Major winner, Mats Wilander, stated that Carlos has more variety in his game than Rafa had at 19!
Alcaraz can hit the ball in full power from both wings, and he has more options to close the point thanks to his incredible forehand drop shot as soon as he moves his opponent away from the comfort zone. A teenager has already won four ATP titles in 2022, starting from Rio de Janeiro in February.
Nadal toppled Alcaraz in the Indian Wells semi-final after three hours and 12 minutes of a grueling battle, and the youngster was ready for an even better run in Miami.
Mats Wilander praised Carlos Alcaraz while comparing him with Rafael Nadal.
Carlos became the youngest Masters 1000 champion since Rafa in 2005, writing history books and lifting another ATP 500 trophy in Barcelona.
Heading to Madrid as one of the favorites, Alcaraz toppled Nadal and Djokovic in back-to-back days en route to the final, becoming the first player who defeated two legends at the same clay-court ATP event! Carlos proved too strong for Alexander Zverev in the final, lifting the second Masters 1000 crown within two months and gathering a massive boost ahead of Roland Garros.
"I think Alcaraz has more variety than Rafael Nadal. He can mix up his game, hit powerful strokes and change that to finesse and close the point with a drop shot. His backhand slice is not up there yet, but when we consider hitting in full throttle and drop shots, he is probably more skillful than Rafa at 19.
If the rival is close to the baseline, Carlos will try to push him back with strong strokes and add more options to finish the point," Mats Wilander said.