Dream or utopia: can Alcaraz bring Djokovic's 24 Slams closer?

The young Spaniard won his 3rd Major at 21 years old. With little competition on the horizon, the dream has some chance of becoming reality

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Dream or utopia: can Alcaraz bring Djokovic's 24 Slams closer?
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Carlitos Alcaraz has fulfilled the dream of every tennis fan who, at least once in his life, has entertained the idea of ​​playing tennis. I did it too; I picked up my first racket in 1996, at 11 years old, a Wilson signed by Pete Sampras (a printed signature, obviously!). At 11 I started with a summer camp on the clay-courts of a tennis club in my hometown. It was love at first sight. With tennis. I continue to play every now and then, but I've never been much of a player, except for amateur matches with friends. Over the years I have found myself much more inclined to talk and write about tennis. To disseminate, rather than to play. But when I was an 11 year old I also dreamed of winning Wimbledon and Roland Garros. The same dream that Alcaraz had many times.

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024
Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024© Getty Images Sport
 

But now the young Spanish talent, as competitive as he is, will have other dreams and other goals to set. In step, but with the determination that only the predestined have. In the short term there is the defense of Wimbledon and the Olympic tournament, again on the clay-courts of the Roland Garros Stadium. Already in Australia, in 2025 and still as a 21-year-old, Alcaraz could already complete the career Grand Slam. Crazy.

Are Novak Djokovic's 24 Slams a dream or a utopia? At this point, it is too premature and complex, but I would like to propose an analysis, however immature. Nole's 24 Slams are something unique, perhaps unrepeatable, but Carlos could at least come close to those numbers. Especially since there are currently no noteworthy opponents on the horizon. There is Jannik Sinner. Solid, hardworking. He can challenge Carlitos for titles, but at the moment he is one or two steps behind the Spanish tennis player. His most fearsome opponent will obviously be Novak Djokovic, provided that the Serbian champion returns to the same state we admired in 2023. This is why he is an unknown.

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024
Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024© Tim Goode / Stringer - Getty Images Sport
 

However, I would like to make a difference that I believe is substantial between Alcaraz and Djokovic. Carlitos can certainly bring Djokovic's 24 Slams closer. He won't get to that number, it will be difficult, but he could come close. However, Djokovic reached that number in the Big 3 Era, matching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. For this reason, the Serbian's milestones have more value than those of the Spaniard.

So far Alcaraz has won one Major per season, starting in 2022. With still many years of his career left, he can imagine at least getting close to the records set by the Big 3. Among active tennis players, the Spaniard placed immediately behind the Serbian and his compatriot, equaling the three Major titles won by Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. In the press conference after his triumph at Roland Garrps, a journalist asked the Spaniard if he thinks he can reach Nole's 24 Slams.

"I don't know, I hope so. I spoke with Ferrero before the final and he made me understand how difficult it is to win one. He even has 24. It's incredible. I can't think about it at the moment, I have to keep working and then we'll see in the future which ones I can win. For the moment I want to enjoy the victory here in Paris," he told.

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024
Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024© Tim Goode / Stringer - Getty Images Sport
 

In an interview with Tennis Channel, Carlitos made a comparison between this year and what happened last year in France: "I consider myself a player who learns from his mistakes, from the situations he has experienced. In 2023, in the semifinal here against Djokovic, I couldn't finish the match due to cramps. I said I would learn from then. In fact, in the Wimbledon final against him I managed my nerves much better. A year later, in the semifinal, I had physical problems against Jannik, but I controlled it to continue my run towards the final," he explained.

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024
Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024© Tim Goode / Stringer - Getty Images Sport
 

Now the Spaniard will focus on Wimbledon and the Olympics.

"In the third set I was ahead 5-2 but I didn't feel superior to him, I couldn't find a way to put him in difficulty, I had the feeling that he could win the games without problems and in the end he really came back. In the fourth set fortunately he started in a more relaxed manner and starting from 4-0 helped me manage, then in the fifth set I simply gave everything, I did what warriors do and I consider myself one. Returning to the Olympics soon as a champion in Paris will be special, I will have special memories and I won't hide it. I think it will be a very nice tournament, my first Olympics right after winning my first Roland Garros. I hope to do well, I want to win gold and at the same time play doubles together with Rafael Nadal, I won't believe it until I see it with my own eyes. There were moments in which I had to make difficult decisions, give up on those I cared about in the tournament, I had to face various uncertainties but I have to thank my team who helped me and who I consider like family. I don't play alone, my family is there," he said.

Alcaraz
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