'Big 3 Still Kings, Alcaraz Is A Prince': Coach Lopez Shuts Down Comparisons

'Big 3 Still Kings, Alcaraz Is A Prince': Coach Lopez Shuts Down Comparisons

by Nurein Ahmed

Since his major breakthrough in 2022, Carlos Alcaraz has been compared to many players, but the most remarkable comparison is that to the Big 3.

The trio of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal are considered the greatest tennis players of all time and the benchmark when it comes to records, style, charisma, and success.

For any young tennis player, being compared to one of these legends is a statement in itself. But being compared to all three of them simultaneously is a barometer of excellence. That is what Alcaraz has had to deal with in his young career.

The 20-year-old is undoubtedly one of the finest young talents in the men's game. He has already captured two Grand Slams and was ranked World No. 1 for the first time at the age of 19, becoming the youngest to hold on to that mantle in ATP history.

When he defeated Djokovic to win Wimbledon last summer, he was proclaimed as the new kingpin on tour. The Serb even went as far as proclaiming him as a mix of the Big 3.

It was a bold statement to come from the mouth of a great champion like Djokovic. Alcaraz's coach Samuel Lopez, who accompanied him to Melbourne this year in the absence of Juan Carlos Ferrero, felt it was an outlandish remark. He believes his protege is not quite at that level.

"I think that Djokovic needed to say something about Carlos (after the final). Maybe it is an unbelievable comparison, but it is very nice for Carlos. But it’s not (true)."

"Of course, he (Alcaraz) has the level, the level like (Jannik) Sinner. But for the moment, they (the Big 3) are kings. Carlos is a prince. You need to fight, to continue, and maybe one day you can be a king like them."

Lopez works at the JC Ferrero Academy and serves as the full-time coach of another Spanish player, Pablo Carreno Busta, who is currently injured. But he has been a key aide in Alcaraz's development since the youngster arrived at the famous academy in his early teenage years.

Because Alcaraz hails from Spain, he has been tipped to takeover Rafael Nadal's crown once the 14-time Grand Slam champion calls it a day. Some tennis fans and pundits reckon the pair bear resemblance in their style of play. Lopez explained how the two countrymen differ.

"They are Spanish, have good fitness, and they play with power. But Carlos is a little different from Rafa. For me, Rafa is the No. 1 in the history (of the sport) in mentality...Carlos, for me, is a different number one He likes to play many times for the public, for a spectacle. It’s impossible to win 14 times at Roland Garros. That’s crazy."

Alcaraz is in action this week, playing at the Argentina Open as he seeks to win his first title in over six months. The Murcia native will play his first match on Thursday against Camilo Ugo Carabelli to kick off his title defense.


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