Tennis legend crowns Carlos Alcaraz: "He can become the 2nd strongest ever"

The 2-time Slam champion Mats Wilander explains why Carlitos reminds him of some top players from the past

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Tennis legend crowns Carlos Alcaraz: "He can become the 2nd strongest ever"
© Megan Briggs / Stringer Getty Images Sport

The former tennis legend Mats Wilander analyzed the path that led Carlos Alcaraz to become the heir of the Big 3, defending the young Spaniard from the criticisms that have hit him in recent months.

In fact, after his triumph at Wimbledon 2023, Carlitos was no longer able to win titles until Indian Wells 2024. Many insiders attacked (unfairly) the former ATP No.1 for his drop in performances. Wilander is of a different opinion. In fact, he believes that Alcaraz can become the second strongest tennis player in history.

"I don't think he can be number 1 in the world for as many weeks as Djokovic. Of course, when I see Carlos playing tennis he reminds me a lot of the great Roger Federer. I often refer to Roger as the greatest player of all time, but this has nothing to do with statistics or results. It has to do with what it meant for the sport, with the expectations it generated in people," told Wilander Eurosport.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Megan Briggs / Stringer Getty Images Sport

"Carlos is going through the same situation that Roger was going through at that time, people expect to see something more than a player who wins matches. His rivals also love playing against him, it's fun even when he loses, because beating him means you were much better.

The fact that Federer was able to stay at the top for so long without having that mental intimidation of his opponents is one of the reasons why he has become the most important tennis player to ever play our sport. Carlos could become the second most important tennis player to ever play our sport, for all his contributions on the court.

But that doesn't mean his ranking consistency will be the same as Novak Djokovic, or even Jannik Sinner. For me this is not the way or the reason why Carlos Alcaraz plays tennis," he analyzed.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz© Megan Briggs / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Jannik Sinner is dominating this first part of 2024, after winning the Australian Open, Rotterdam and Miami and doesn't want to stop. After reaching the ATP No.2 spot, the 22-year-old chases Novak Djokovic to try to become the new ATP No.1.

Despite having won Indian Wells with great merit, many media started criticizing the Spaniard again after the defeat in Miami against Grigor Dimitrov, but it should be underlined that Carlos is the only one to have beaten Sinner, in 2024.

Alcaraz reveals his goals

Carlitos received the National Sport Award from King Philip VI and, in the special press conference, revealed the objectives he cares about most. Alcaraz has never hidden his true ambitions and has repeatedly underlined that he will try to beat the records set over the years by the Big 3.

"We all know the rivalries that Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had. We know that all three have improved thanks to these rivalries. What they have done is something out of the ordinary. I've always said that my goal is to try to reach them, to try to reach those numbers, because you have to dream big. Numbers that are still very, very far away for me," he explained.

Alcaraz will definitely have to deal with another big star in the coming years, Jannik Sinner. The two have already captured the public's attention and in the eights and head-to-heads they are in perfect balance: 4-4.

"I hope I can have a good rivalry like theirs with Jannik Sinner. I know I can improve based on him and that he always manages to push me to give 100%. In the next ten years I hope to have this kind of rivalry with him," told Alcaraz.

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner
Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner© Matthew Stockman / Staff Getty Images Sport

Alcaraz also talked about Rafael Nadal and the possibility of playing doubles with him at the Paris Olympics.

"At the moment I don't know anything about his condition or how he is. Being Spanish and a tennis player, I'm obviously worried. Let's see how he and I will get there in the games, in the end there are still 4 months to go. Anything can happen but I hope it can happen. The Roland Garros is a super special competition for the Spaniards, because of what Rafa achieved.

For me it would be incredible to be able to win, even just once. They are growing: two years ago quarter-finals; last year semi-finals... this year I'll try to get to the end," he analyzed.

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner
Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner© Chris Unger / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Carlos Alcaraz Mats Wilander