In all of his years playing and watching professional tennis, Australian doubles champion Todd Woodbridge believes Carlos Alcaraz has emerged as one of the few true ‘phenoms’ of the men’s game.
At just 19 years of age, Alcaraz last week won the US Open title and rose to world No.1 – the youngest ever player to hold the top men’s ranking.
And it was a title run defined by his physical and mental resilience, given he won three straight five-set matches to arrive in the final – saving match point against Jannik Sinner in one of them – and spent a record total of 23 hours and 40 minutes on court.
Speaking on the latest episode of The AO Show podcast, Woodbridge said Alcaraz’s eventual triumph in the final over Casper Ruud was the culmination of something “very special”.
“When you look at the tennis landscape over the last 30, 40, maybe 50 years, there's only been a few players that have come along that are what you'd call a 'phenom',” Woodbridge said.
“You might look at the result of Michael Chang (as a 17-year-old at Roland Garros 1989), Rafa coming through (as a teenager at Roland Garros 2005), and that's in my time at least, and then Boris Becker (who won Wimbledon 1985 as a 17-year-old) just before my time.
“Now we throw Carlos Alcaraz into that mix, where we've witnessed the beginning of greatness. And time will tell how ultimately great he will become.
“But the performance that he put on at this tournament was just a joy to watch, and really made me feel like tennis is in that transition, and it's going to be amazing.
“I didn't expect we'd have this quality of play this early from the next generation.”
Alcaraz thrilled sold-out crowds in New York with the high level of his play; at one point the US Open social media accounts described him as a “human highlight reel”.
CARLOS ALCARAZ IS A HUMAN HIGHLIGHT REEL pic.twitter.com/2ySEIlloEp— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 10, 2022
His explosive court coverage, athletic defence, and shocking power combined with deft touch and a wide variety of strokes, proved an undeniable combination.
Woodbridge was left extremely impressed by a player he believed combined the best elements of the game’s greats.
"Normally a young player will come along and they'll idolise a certain player, and their attributes will be of that one player,” Woodbridge said.
“But it looks to me as though Carlos has cherry-picked the very best out of Federer (the way that he transitions and volleys), Nadal (the tenacity, the positivity), and then the athleticism and movement of Djokovic.
“I've never seen a more well-rounded player in my time of watching the game.”