Carlos Alcaraz receives a large birthday cake on court.

Photo : Thomas Coex/AFP

Carlos Alcaraz isn’t a teenager anymore.

He turned 20 on May 5th, the day he battled in the semis in Madrid. As you can see from the above photo, the tournament marked the occasion right before Spain’s native son sent Borna Coric packing in just over an hour and a half (6-4, 6-3 in 100 minutes).

In the final, which was as exciting as it was surprising, Alcaraz defeated German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff in three (6-4, 3-6, 6-3). So far this season, Alcaraz has won 29 of his 31 matches and 4 of the 5 finals he’s competed in.

Photo : ATP

He’s barely 20 and has already posted one of the most impressive win–loss sheets in tennis history for a player his age.

Since the start of his young career, he’s taken part in 13 finals and taken home 10 ATP titles including a major from the 2022 US Open. 

Read also: Sabalenka Dethrones Swiatek in Madrid

In case you need more proof of how explosive his start has been, in his first 150 ATP matches, he secured a record 117 wins. As a teenager.

That’s more than Nadal, more than McEnroe and more than basically everyone else.

First 150 ATP matches (after 1968)

Sources : @JeuSetMaths

His pro titles tally doesn’t include the 2021 Next Gen ATP Finals crown he earned by asserting his dominance over Sebastian Korda in Milan. Reserved for the most promising 21-and-unders, it doesn’t count in official ATP stats.

Read also: Amanda Anisimova Takes a Mental Timeout

Already hyped as a future superstar, Alcaraz went head-to-head with other up-and-comers for the first and only time. He blazed through the tournament, winning 15 of 16 sets and silencing any doubts as to his astounding potential. Even at 18, he showed flashes of the power, speed, defensive skills and prowess that have become his trademark.

Case in point:

Last week, Alcaraz doubled down in Barcelona and Madrid two years running—something even Rafa hasn’t done (he’s won both in the same year, in 2013 and 2017, but not in consecutive seasons).

You can imagine the impact on Spanish tennis fans.

PHOTO : Julian Finney/Getty

They’re loving it, of course.

They’ve got a consistent dozen in the ATP Top 100, and just as their hero of the past two decades is starting to show signs of an imminent departure, a successor is already comfortably installed.

Photo :

The win puts Carlos just five points behind the World No.1. Novak Djokovic is far from being done with the struggle for supremacy, and the ATP throne is inching closer and closer to waving the Spanish flag.

That’ll be the red and yellow icing on an already impressive cake.

Photo : Manu Fernandez/AP

Canadian versatility

Photos : Corinne Dubreuil (ATP)/Martin Sidorjak (Tennis Canada)

Over the past decade, Canada’s brightest hopes in doubles have been Gabriela Dabrowski, Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor, who retired in 2018.

Now, slowly but surely, new names are entering the mix—players like Fernandez, Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime who are in the earlier stages of solid singles careers and still do well in doubles.

Just take a look at the doubles draws in Madrid.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak/Tennis Canada

In the quarters, Leylah Fernandez and Taylor Townsend of the US won their match, while Gaby and Luisa Stefani of Brazil fell to Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff, who happen to make up one of the best pairs in the world. In the semis, Leylah and Taylor lost in three to Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia.

#TAYLAH is a gangbuster team. In Miami, the duo went all the way to the final, only to be outdone by Pegula and Gauff.

Photo : Mike Frey/USA Today via Reuters

Leylah is currently No.36 in doubles. That’s higher than her singles ranking of No.50. No one saw that coming. You can read more about #TAYLAH and #SHAUGER right here.

Photo : Corinne Dubreuil/ATP

In Spain, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov joined forces for the second time in as many months and got as far as the quarters before falling to Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer.

Photo : Jonathan Moore/BNP Paribas Open

Taking into account how little doubles they play, it’s important for the Canadian team to compete in as many matches as possible.

Between the two of them, Shapo has the highest doubles ranking. His more extensive experience, especially with a veteran as accomplished as Rohan Bophana, boosted him to No.44 in 2020. He’s currently No.111.

As for Félix, he collected 80 points in Madrid and is the current No.187.

Photo : Corinne Dubreuil/ATP

That’s not exactly the same status as some men’s teams, like Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov who took the crown in Madrid. They’re No.6 and No.11 in singles and moved up to No.58 and No.66 in doubles, respectively.

Still, the skills and habits developed in doubles will come in handy at the growing number of team events like United Cup, Billie Jean King Cup, Davis Cup and the Olympics.  

And that was exactly my point in my NBO blog on April 4: our Canadians’ versatility could really pay off in Paris next summer.



Twitter : @paul6rivard

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