Carlos Alcaraz ‘on the right path’ to world No 1 as Spaniard aims to copy Rafa Nadal again

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Carlos Alcaraz has claimed he is on the right track after breaking the world’s top 10 for the first time off the back of his first Barcelona Open title. The 18-year-old mirrored his idol Rafael Nadal by winning the title and making his top 10 debut exactly 17 years to the day after Nadal did the same when he was 18.

Alcaraz continued his stellar start to 2022 by lifting his third trophy of the year at the Barcelona Open trophy on Sunday and making his top 10 debut at world No 9 when the ATP rankings updated on Monday. Having always drawn comparisons to Nadal, the teenager mirrored the 21-time Grand Slam champion exactly as an 18-year-old Nadal also beat a fellow Spaniard to win his first Barcelona title on February 24 2005 and broke the top 10 the following day.

The 18-year-old is now as motivated as ever to continue repeating his idol’s achievements, eyeing up the top spot of the rankings and Grand Slam titles, and has admitted he’s on track to reach the same lofty heights of the sport. “I have Juan Carlos, who is able to tell me how difficult it is and how much of a sacrifice it takes to reach No 1,” the new world No 9 said of his coach Ferrero, a former world No 1 who was coincidentally Nadal’s opponent in the 2005 Barcelona final.

“I think I’m on the right path. If I stay on it and continue to do things well, I will have chances, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.” The newly-crowned Barcelona champion was already part of the conversation for the upcoming French Open and has cemented himself further as a favourite for the title with his victory on home soil.

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Alcaraz was happy to aim for the biggest titles in the sport, continuing: “I don’t have any limits, I don’t want to set any. I want to continue playing at the level I have and I think that if I continue like this I have many options to continue climbing.

“I want to continue enjoying myself on the court, I still don’t want to touch the ceiling.” After winning the Miami Open earlier this month – becoming the youngest man ever to do so – and breaking the world’s top 15 as a result, Alcaraz had also set his sights on the top spot of the rankings.

Initially, Alcaraz and Ferrero had set a goal for the teenager to make his top 15 debut by the end of 2022 but have been forced to reassess with Alcaraz exceeding his own expectations months in advance, and he is now aiming to become the new world No 1. “My dream is to be No 1 of the world and that is my motivation,” he declared, shortly after winning his first Masters 1000 title.

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“To reach my dreams, to reach the No 1 of the world. I’m trying hard every day for that.” Alcaraz was also looking to replicate Nadal’s first Grand Slam triumph as a 19-year-old too, believing he could win a Major title as early as this year.

With the young Spaniard turning 19 during the upcoming Madrid Masters, it means he will be the same age as Nadal was when he won his first Grand Slam title at the 2005 French Open, and he was aiming to win his own first Major at the same age. When asked about his French Open chances after winning Miami, he stated: “I would tell you that I am prepared, I am confident, I am also physically and mentally. Maybe it’s not Roland Garros, but I can win a Grand Slam this year. And I’m not afraid to say it.”

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