Call me Carlitos or Charlie. Call me everything except Carlos, otherwise it seems I've done something wrong”, Carlos Alcaraz told Àlex Corretja, now a television commentator, at the Mutua Madrid Open in May.
The anecdote runs through the newspaper archives, fascinating the imaginary of tennis in general and outlining the essence of the character: the best tennis player of the moment is an adolescent with a man's body, a face dotted with juvenile acne and the ways of a naughty boy who presents himself to the world naked , as it is.
A year and a half ago, in a telephone interview with this newspaper, Alcaraz told us that, minutes before picking up the phone and attending to us, he had been punishing himself with a good session of abdominals and legs in the gym of his academy, the Equelite Sport that Juan Carlos Ferrero directs in Villena.
"I don't have much else to do either. I'm going to eat early, I have dinner early and I'm getting my driver's license.
(it was the 120th racket in the world at the time)
And four months ago, already live at the RCTB in Barcelona, he sat down before this same chronicler and told him:
-Look, now we know each other in person. Let's see if we have the opportunity to see each other more times out there.
(already hovering in the Top Ten)
We have seen each other more times, in Paris and London, and in all those episodes, Alcaraz has maintained the fresh tone, of a teenager as surprised by everything he is experiencing as convinced of himself.
"I don't have such a bad serve either," he answered a few times.
(and laughed sarcastically)
"I don't have such a bad rest either," he answered in others.
(he laughed again)
–I think I can win a Grand Slam –he dared to say at last, even after his elimination against Sasha Zverev, in the quarterfinals in Paris.
That kind spirit – he never faces the public, on the contrary, he earns it: he gives away his sneakers in New York, asks for applause in London, blows kisses in Paris – distinguishes him from the tormented members of the Next Gen (Medvedev, Zverev, Kyrgios, even Tsitsipas has turned sour in recent weeks) and connects him with the syrupy Federer and Nadal, two of the three members of the Big Three, respectful tennis players whose speech is never corrupted.
(Djokovic, the third of the greats, will always eat separately)
Tennis in general and the fans of our country in particular applaud the emergence of a different tennis player, as vehement as successful in his tennis, a kid who internalizes his moments of frustration (he does not break rackets either) and manages matches with the skill of a veteran: improvise on the fly, lengthen the points at will, regulate the effort as the commitment is stretched or shortened, recover from a setback with a forceful action, register a dropshot or a lob to interrupt the rhythm of the opponent and give aces and volleys in the decisive moments.
His growth, and also the appearance of Jannik Sinner, draws an outline of the present and marks the main lines of the future. Whatever happens tonight, we must always count on Alcaraz.