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"I have to be myself”: Alcaraz keeping it real at AO 2024

  • Simon Cambers

Straight after the Wimbledon final last summer, Novak Djokovic, having been beaten by Carlos Alcaraz in an epic five-setter, said the Spaniard’s game contained a little bit of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and himself.

“I would agree with that,” he said at the time. “I think he's got basically best of all three worlds.”

MORE: All the scores from Australian Open 2024

Federer said much the same thing when asked about Alcaraz during a trip to the Shanghai Masters last October, praise indeed for a man who’s trying to emulate each of them in his achievements on the court.

Though he already has two Grand Slam titles to his name, Alcaraz is too modest to agree, at least in public. But while it’s clear to anyone who watches tennis that his game has a little of each of the Big Three, the Spaniard admits he’s also taking a leaf out of their book when it comes to his actions off the court.

“I think everybody, Rafa, Roger, Djokovic, everybody has improved over the years,” Alcaraz told “They are 35, 36, 37 years old, and they're still in good shape, still having the chance to win Grand Slams, having the chance to win big tournaments because during their whole careers they were improving every day.

“I think tennis is improving every year. You can't be stuck, you have to improve. You will never be perfect. You have to improve those, let's say, problems or the things that you're not doing great or you can do better. That's on my mind every day.”

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in 2023 due to injury but bounced back quickly to win his second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, outlasting Djokovic in the final, the Serb’s only defeat in majors all year.

His smile, charming and disarming in equal measure, is as much a trademark of his game as his blistering forehand or explosive speed. Two years ago, he was seeded 31st in Melbourne, now he’s the No.2 chasing a third slam title. 

Alcaraz’s elevation to the top of the game has been incredibly fast but the 20-year-old said that since he first played in Melbourne in 2021, he had learned how important it is to be true to his character.

“As a person, I have to be myself,” Alcaraz said. 

“I think that's really important to think about because probably not everybody does that. Being yourself all the time on the court, off the court that's, for me, that's the lesson that I learned these two years.”

The Spaniard is already a darling of crowds around the world, particularly at Melbourne Park, where he often stays for extended periods after practice and after matches to sign autographs and chat to friends.

Alcaraz said it is important that he gives back to those who help him so often in big matches.

“I think, thanks to them, I'm the player that I am, right now, in a certain way,” he said. 

“I always say that you alone on the court, obviously you have your team, the boss helping me. But the love, the energy that the people bring to you is really, really important as well.

“In the match there are ups and downs and you have to overcome those problems and the energy from the people is really important. So I try to make them happy, making different shots, but obviously, taking the time with them, for photos, autograph and then I try to stay with them a little bit.”

Alcaraz takes on Miomir Kecmanovic for a place in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open on Monday night.