Veteran American coach Rick Macci believes that Carlos Alcaraz is going to win a lot and is destined for an illustrious playing career.
The days when tennis' famous Big 3 maintained their hegemony on the rest of the playing field are almost over. Roger Federer's retirement turned the three into a Big 2. And then 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal acknowledged he will likely play the final year of his professional career in 2024.
That could leave Novak Djokovic as the sole surviving member of the most dominant trio in tennis history. Djokovic, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, just suffered his first defeat at Wimbledon since 2017. While his intention is to play for a few more years, he might be considering his parents' wishes.
The man responsible for ending Djokovic's reign at the All England Club was none other than Carlos Alcaraz, who has certainly caught the eye of celebrated tennis coach Macci. In Macci's words, Alcaraz is the most complete player in the game, and while the occasional loss is possible, he sees Alcaraz dominating and winning every time he plays, as he revealed in an exclusive interview with Tennis Infinity.
"So at the end of the day, I think he can win any tournament that he plays. But that being said, no one's going undefeated. No one's gonna win all the time. He's gonna lose. Anything's possible, especially in men's tennis, because if someone's serving big and hitting the corners, you get into a tiebreaker, anything's possible."
"But he's the leader in the clubhouse. And barring injury, this guy can go places that maybe we've never seen in the game of tennis."
When Alcaraz burst onto the scene, he was declared the ultimate heir to Nadal's throne. His best surface, many people thought was clay as is the case with most Spaniards. But ahead of his title defense at the US Open later this month, Macci thinks otherwise. In fact, the 68-year-old explained that Alcaraz's strengths suit hard courts.
"Anything's possible with this guy. Even I think his best surface might be hard court simply because of his movement. The way he can stop and start, and he can slide, his movement is even better, in my opinion, on hard court. That being said, the serve, even though it's effective on a hard court, on grass, people can hurt him more."
Macci says no one is indispensable, and Alcaraz is very much beatable as he attributed to a player serving lights out on a good day. But he adds that he's got an aggressive edge to his game on hard courts, taking the return extremely early.
"You know, you can hurt people more on grass. So the hard court, it's gonna be a little easier, generally speaking, the return. And I think when he plays on the hard court, from what I've seen, he's a little more authoritative, and he's a little more aggressive. He'll take your second serve and come in.
Being on top of the world rankings comes with its own added pressure. What distinguished the Big 3 from the rest of the pack was the unmatched mental fortitude that enabled them to stay at the summit for many years. Macci credits Alcaraz's parents for his upbringing and says the young Spaniard embraces pressure, something that is very difficult to teach.
"But more importantly, the guy's a Broadway performer. You know, he loves the pressure. He loses 20-ball rallies and smiles. He has gratitude. His two best assets, in my opinion, are his mom and dad. You know, the way he's wired."