EXCLUSIVE: Rick Macci talks about Serena's 24th, Nadal & Federer as role models, future of Alcaraz & more

EXCLUSIVE: Rick Macci talks about Serena's 24th, Nadal & Federer as role models, future of Alcaraz & more

by Sebastian Dahlman

Last last updated

Throughout his coaching career, Rick Macci worked with many legends such as Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick and Jennifer Capriati.

In a recent exclusive interview with Tennis-Infinity.com, the seven-time USPTA national coach of the year, Rick Macci talked about rising stars as well as well-established names on the ATP & WTA Tours. The USPTA Florida Hall of Fame member shared his thoughts about Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Coco Gauff and many more.

I: Carlos Alcaraz has been named by many as one of the top favorites for the Roland Garros this year, but he was stopped already in the quarterfinals, by Alexander Zverev. Can he still win a Grand Slam this year?

R: "I've done a lot of stuff really even two years ago and I start talking about his ability when I first saw him play, very unique. And obviously, I've done a lot of interviews, and I've done a lot of articles on his ability. He's a generational player. People will have to understand that. In my opinion, he’s Agassi, Djokovic, Federer, Nadal all wrapped in one. I know this sounds crazy, barring injury, he's going to go down as the greatest player of all time.

And I know that's crazy to talk like that when someone just turned 19 and they haven't won a Grand Slam. I saw this in Sampras, I saw it in Federer, I saw it in Nadal. I didn't see it in Djokovic, you know, he came on a little later, but, he just has the most complete game. He was born to do this. He's the fastest guy that's ever picked up a tennis racket. When you can do that, you can play offense, defense even when you're nervous. He has a drop shot from outer space, and but off the ground, he's very authoritative, he has high level technique. And like I said, he was born to do this and he has humility.

It's going to be tougher at Wimbledon because people with big serves, everything's a little closer but his games adaptable on every surface. I think hard court could be his best. He's getting unbelievable experience, I think that he'll win so many Grand Slams it's unbelievable. So at the end of the day, could he win Wimbledon? Yeah! Can he win the US Open? Absolutely!"

I: You once tweeted that Sebastian Korda can win 5-7 Wimbledon titles, is he the future of American tennis?

R: "There's no doubt in my mind he will be the next great American. I'm very good friends with Rilley Opelka, Francis Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, there's a lot of good Americans. This kid is different. The genetic base is off the charts what i mean by that both his parents played pro tennis his sisters are both high level pro golfers are both top ten in the world.

Genetics have a lot to do with this. He has a very compact game, very clean groundstrokes that's gonna bode well on fast surfaces. Even though on his forehand he doesn't get as much spin as the other guys on the forehand it's more of a Federer forehand where it's a tight spin so i think that's going to bode well on grass. His backhand's money in the bank he could take it up the line or cross court like Agassi.

His serve should be a lot better. I'd love to have the opportunity to biomechanically put that together a little better. I think his serve could be fifteen miles faster with his height and he's going to need that as time goes on. I think he's going to have an amazing career, he's the next great American.

I can see him being a double digit Grand Slam player. I think as time goes on it's gonna be Alcaraz and Korda at the top. Korda has a little bit ways to go. But you know we sit here and we talk like this before it happened then when it happens it's not a big deal."

I: Sofia Kenin is the last American woman to win a Grand Slam title, do you think she can come back and win another one?

R: "I don’t usually say a hundred percent, but on this one, I’m gonna say a thousand percent that she will come back and win a Grand Slam. She's been injured and there's other things that went on but her head is clear, she's working hard. No one understands the geometry of the court like Sofia Kenin and she has that great drop shot, she's a brutal competitor and remember there's a lot of change in women's tennis.

I know Iga is just steamrolling everybody and she's the only one that seems like is there and is not blinking.Osaka is in and out. Everybody's kind of in and out. This thing's wide open and you you don't forget how to win, you don't forget how to compete and so at the end of the day she will come back and as quickly as she went out of the top ten she'll be right back in there once she starts playing and gets the confidence. Sofia Kenin will come back and she can definitely win a Grand Slam. I can't wait to see it because she'll be great for the American tennis."

I: Speaking about the future of American tennis, Coco Gauff just played singles and doubles finals at the 2022 Roland Garros, what do you predict for her in the future?

R: "I know Coco and her father, we’re all in Florida. She is the best pure athlete running on the WTA Tour. What that means is when you're nervous, you can still play offense and defense. She can run, she's a track star that has a tennis racket in her hand reminds me a lot of Venus as far as the strides and the running goes.

Forehand can be a little suspect, serve can kind of go off a little bit. Coco is going to win some Grand Slams there's no doubt about it. She's only 18, she’s gonna get better. But to dominate the game, I would like to see her play closer to the baseline, dictate, cut the court, take the ball early, hit the ball cleaner. She counter punches a lot and that's a tougher way to make a living and to become a champion."

I: Do you think Serena Williams will win 24th Grand Slam title?

R: "If she wants to do it, she has to fully commit and get in amazing shape. You don't lose the talent, you just lose the fitness. Then you get the confidence back once you start playing matches. She just has to dive in get used to winning and losing. She's probably the best competitor maybe in any women's sport we've ever seen. Serena is like a pitbull when she gets a hold of you she doesn't let go. She's a brutal competitor and she has that serve. She can hit fifteen aces a match still. If she wants to do this and really go after it, I have no doubt that she can do it because you never underestimate a heart of a champion.

This young lady was wired different at ten years old when i saw her. Just the way she's put together. I know she has other priorities in her life, she's a mother now. But if she wants to do this, one hundred percent, she can come back. And I think she could not only win Grand Slam, she could be number one if she wanted to but that's a question only she can answer."

I: How long do you think Rafael Nadal can keep playing despite the injury that seems to bother him?

R: "No one knows what's in his head and no one knows what his health is like. To win that many matches and hardly lose on that court, that's crazy. If you think about what's his record, that's crazy in any sport let alone tennis. Maybe he's lost a quarter of a step but he hasn't lost that fighting spirit and the way he handles pressures is almost bulletproof.

If he's healthy, he'll play as long as he wants but if you talk about a role model. Young kids should just look how he responds, like Federer, after they lose a point. The guy‘s like a machine. You just don't become that yesterday or a week ago. He's been doing that since he's a little kid."


You may also like