Carlos Alcaraz ‘thinking about Rafael Nadal’ at US Open

Tennis fans react to Carlos Alcaraz's Wimbledon win

Carlos Alcaraz has admitted he was thinking about Rafael Nadal when he opted to go for a sleeveless look at this year’s US Open. Nadal has won the Flushing Meadows Grand Slam on four occasions but is absent from the tournament this year as he battles to overcome a hip injury.

Alcaraz has enjoyed a scintillating rise to the top of the game in recent years and won his first Grand Slam at the age of 19 at last year’s US Open. The 20-year-old backed-up that success by defeating Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final in July and is second favourite to win in New York this time around.

Alcaraz got his US Open campaign up and running against Dominik Koepfer on Tuesday and donned a new look as he wore a shirt without any sleeves. The Nike top is full of colour, with orange, blue and red patterns scattered around it.

Nadal habitually wore sleeveless shirts during his early years on the Tour and was famed for the look as he won tournament after tournament. And Alcaraz tipped his hat at the legendary player after progressing to the second round.

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“Honestly, when I wear the sleeves, I was thinking about Rafa when he wore that,” Alcaraz explained. “He won that US Open, right?. I love to wear that sometimes in some specific tournaments. Here in the US Open, I [was] supposed to play [in a sleeveless top] last year. This year it’s a good, good outfit – so I love it.”

Alcaraz’s opponent on Tuesday was dealt a huge blow just six points into the match when he rolled his left ankle. The German battled on for another hour but was eventually forced to retire before hobbling off the court, with Alcaraz leading 6-2, 3-2.

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“It was a shame for him in the first game, he got injured with the ankle,” Alcaraz added. “Obviously that’s not the best way to get through to another round. But I have to say for myself that I was playing great, I was playing really well on court. Hopefully I can keep the same level in the next round.”

Alcaraz is set to face Lloyd Harris in the second round after the South African ace overcame Guido Pella in his first outing of the tournament. Meanwhile, three-time champion Djokovic began his tournament by defeating Frenchman Alexandre Muller 6-0, 6-2, 6-3. Djokovic and Alcaraz have been tipped to meet in the final next month.

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