Alcaraz Sets New Goals After Achieving No. 1 Dream: 'I Have So Much To Improve'
Editor's note: This story was translated from ATPTour.com/es
The time has come. Carlos Alcaraz now has a place and date for his 2023 season debut. He will play his first match of the year next week at the Argentina Open, facing the winner of the first-round encounter between Fabio Fognini and Laslo Djere in Buenos Aires.
Before taking to the South American clay, the No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings spoke to the press on Saturday about how he is approaching his first clash of the year.
“It’ll be my first tournament since I picked up the injury in Paris,” said the Spaniard, who suffered an oblique tear last November at the Rolex Paris Masters. “It’s been four months since then. But I always arrive thinking about winning and wanting to win, even though it won’t be easy after such a long time without competing.”
The 19-year-old Murcia native touched upon the difficulty of the fact that most of his opponents will have six weeks of competition under their belts this season: “That’s why I’ve come a few days early, to train with really good players, gradually improve and to be able to start the tournament as well as possible," he explained.
The top seed has decided to bring a few family members with him to South America. His father, his brother and his uncle will be alongside the former World No. 1 in Argentina.
“They’re here and I also count my team as family: Juanjo [Moreno], my physio, Albert Molina and Toni [Antonio Martínez Cascales],” he said.
Alcaraz understands that the presence of significant others in his life beyond the court can have an important influence on his performance with racquet in hand: “I have a great time with them. At the end of the day, the time on court is two or three hours a day. The rest of the time you have to do things you enjoy, that make you feel good so that you can do as well as possible in the tournament. They come to support me, but also to bring that part of ‘home’, which is also very important.”
View Buenos Aires Draw
Having climbed to the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on 12 September 2022, the Spaniard stayed at World No. 1 for 20 weeks, matching the time spent there by the legendary Mats Wilander and surpassing other greats of the sport like Andy Roddick, Boris Becker, Marat Safin and his own coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.
All of this was reward for a year in which he picked up his first Grand Slam title at the US Open, his first ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Miami and Madrid, and his first ATP 500 trophies in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.
“It was a very good year,” he said of his recent success. “I achieved my dream, my goal, very quickly. Practically in just a year. I dealt with it as naturally as possible. After becoming No. 1 I had to set new goals, new things for the long term, to continue to enjoy myself, continue to improve, because I’m very young and I have a lot of things to improve, despite being the No. 1. You have to keep training and looking forward.”
So, what are these things he needs to improve?
“I think I can improve everything in terms of my game, fitness and mentality," he said. "Little by little, my team will take those small steps to get even better.”
Alcaraz is following in the footsteps of the best of all time: “Rafa, Roger and Djokovic, when they were young, they were so good, but as time has gone by, they’ve improved," he added. This is the basis of his motivation from now on.
“I’m certain that I need to continue to improve,” he insisted. “Achieving my dream very quickly caught me by surprise, so to speak. Now I’m used to it, I have a goal, I know where I want to get to, what I want to be, and that is the most important thing.”
Interestingly, he will be playing an event this week that Ferrero won in 2010. “It’s a really wonderful tournament that Juan Carlos won before and he’s told me good things about it,” he shared.
Alcaraz has already matched some of Ferrero’s achievements by lifting the trophies in Umag and Barcelona, and by winning a Grand Slam and becoming World No. 1. Will he continue to imitate his coach in Buenos Aires?
We will find out this week, but, as he was keen to point out: “It won’t be easy.”