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'I want to be part of history' - discover the real Alcaraz

By BBC
Tennis GETTY IMAGESImage caption: Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz is among the favourites to win the upcoming French Open, but has not played for three weeks because of an arm injury
WED, 22 MAY 2024 LISTEN
GETTY IMAGES Image caption: Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz is among the favourites to win the upcoming French Open, but has not played for three weeks because of an arm injury

Carlos Alcaraz has made no secret of his ultimate career goal: to be the greatest tennis player of all time.

The 21-year-old Spaniard knows, of course, he is a long way from getting anywhere near the records set by Novak Djokovic.

But, having won two majors as a teenager and become the youngest men's world number one in history, he has made a promising start.

Asked by BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller if he is still targeting Djokovic's all-time leading tally of 24 major titles, Alcaraz's answer is instant: "Yes, of course. I am an ambitious guy.

"I know it is almost impossible to break Novak's records but I’m playing tennis for myself, for joy and I want to do great things.

"I want to be part of tennis history."
Over the next fortnight, Alcaraz will bid for a first French Open title on the clay surface he grew up playing on.

With the Grand Slam beginning on Sunday, BBC Radio 5 Live has spoken to Alcaraz and those closest to him to find out what makes one of the most exciting talents in tennis tick.

"What I like most is him thinking big and not just thinking small," said Alcaraz's coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.

"To be one of the greatest you have to think big.
"It’s going to be very hard to break records but we’re here to try to do as well as we can."

Alcaraz had been touted as a future Grand Slam champion from a young age, with his reputation in his hometown of Murcia quickly spreading.

Kiko Navarro, his first coach, realised he had "a very special player" on his hands after seeing Alcaraz play aged five.

Jesus Garcia Pardo, nine years older than the prodigious youngster and an aspiring professional, was "left speechless" by a 10-year-old Alcaraz.

"All his strokes were special," said Pardo, who became Alcaraz's hitting partner.

"He played with no fear, no matter who was on the other side of the net. That helped him make it to the top."

Aged 11, Alcaraz was identified as a potential superstar by agent Albert Molina. Four years later, Molina enlisted the help of former world number one Ferrero.

Ferrero has nurtured Alcaraz ever since, helping his protege fulfil the potential first shown on the clay courts of El Palmar.

Aged 19, Alcaraz claimed his first major at the 2022 US Open, and last year ended Djokovic's dominance to win Wimbledon - despite having barely played on grass.

Transferring his ability across surfaces has been another sign of Alcaraz's talent.

"I think his best surface right now is a hard court," said Ferrero.

"He’s developed on these courts but we cannot avoid [that] the clay court is where he was born.

"I think he will win Roland Garros at least once - he has the game to do it."

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