Carlos Alcaraz praised in thinly-veiled Djokovic and Nadal dig

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Felix Auger-Aliassime’s coach has praised Carlos Alcaraz as the pair prepare to face off for the fourth time. Frederic Fontang also appeared to aim a sly dig at Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal as he claimed the 19-year-old wasn’t “monotonous” compared to the two multi-Grand Slam champions.

Alcaraz and Auger-Aliassime will do battle in the Indian Wells quarter-final on Thursday night, with the Canadian holding a significant advantage going into the match. Auger-Aliassime leads his head-to-head with the world No 2 by three wins to zero losses, arguably making him the favourite despite Alcaraz being ranked higher.

But the 22-year-old and his team know that he has a tough task on his hands facing the top seed in Indian Wells. Auger-Aliassime’s coach claimed Alcaraz had “everything” in his game ahead of their clash, telling L’Equipe: “He was once the world’s number one player, he is already a Grand Slam winner…

“Why? Because he has the physique, the mentality that goes with it, the shots. He’s aggressive in his game without asking too many questions, he’s able to defend, he has variety in his game, he can go forward, he knows how to bunt.”

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Continuing to shower the US Open champion with praise, Fontang added: “He has everything. He’s very opportunistic in his game. After every shot, he’s ready to go forward, if necessary, with a volley. You can tell with every shot that he wants to go forward. I like that.”

And the Frenchman also appeared to take a dig at Djokovic and Nadal, as he alluded to their game styles being one-dimensional in comparison to the 19-year-old Spaniard. “You have Nadal hitting hard from the baseline, Djokovic being poised, and him being on the lookout all the time, ready to move forward.

“He’s demonstrative for the audience. He’s ‘physical’. He has variety, it’s fun to see him play. It’s not monotonous.” Fontang also addressed his charge’s winning record over Alcaraz, admitting that it may not be such an advantage in Indian Wells where the court plays differently.

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“The favorable face-off for Felix, it plays for the psychological aspect that comes into play,” Fontang said of Auger-Aliassime’s 3-0 head-to-head against the world No 2. “The last two times, it was in indoor, a surface that favors Felix with his serve, while it is not yet the main weapon of Alcaraz. But here, the conditions are slow, it’s difficult to make points with the service.”

And Fontang took another small dig – this time at Alcaraz – as he compared the Spaniard to his own player. “Felix will play his game,” he said. “The good thing about him compared to Alcaraz’s game is that he is able to hold some rallies on defense. To make him miss, you have to be able to defend well on three shots. And you have to be able to attack him before he does. Felix has that in his game. Overall, you have to take the initiative and be able to make plays when it hits hard.”

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