Richard Krajicek was a great pro during his playing career and has performed admirably in his role as Rotterdam Open tournament director, but he is still a man living with one regret.
As the ATP 500 event in the Netherlands commemorates its 51st edition this year, scheduled to begin on February 11th, with Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner leading a packed field, Krajicek spoke ahead of the tournament about how he made a judgment call that has certainly backfired on him.
In 2021, a young Carlos Alcaraz was rising through the global ranks of men's tennis. Twelve months earlier, the Spaniard, who was only 16, made his ATP main draw debut at the Rio Open and won his first-round match by beating Albert Ramos Vinolas.
Krajicek did not buy into the hype just yet, even as Alcaraz inched closer to a Top 100 breakthrough in early 2021 before he turned 17. He had a chance to grant a wild card to the teenage phenom to play in Rotterdam. But he declined Alcaraz's request.
Instead, the Dutchman issued the wild card to the 2009 champion and former World No. 1 Andy Murray. Although it made sense at the time, the decision, in retrospect, has had a lingering effect on Krajicek.
Not only did Alcaraz become World No. 1 a year later - the youngest in ATP history - but he would also become a Grand Slam champion after winning the 2022 US Open.
Additionally, Krajicek's best efforts to lure Alcaraz to Rotterdam have hit a dead end in subsequent years because the Spaniard was invited to play in the Golden Swing after his 2020 debut and has since declared the South American stretch to be his pilgrimage in February every season.
"Sometimes things go well, sometimes things go wrong. I preferred to give that (2021 wild card) to Andy Murray. You don't want that to happen again, to say 'no' to tomorrow's number one."