Roland Garros

Carlos Alcaraz: “It doesn’t matter what I have achieved at this age if I stay here”

The Roland Garros champion reflects on his victory a day after winning the Musketeers Cup

June 10, 2024

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Carlos Alcaraz, this Monday with the Musketeers Cup.
By Staff

Dressed elegantly in a black suit, Carlos Alcaraz returns to Roland Garros on Monday morning to be photographed with the Musketeers Cup before going on three days of vacation and disconnecting after winning the third Grand Slam of his career in Paris.

Before getting on a plane to forget about tennis, at least for 72 hours, the Spaniard shares almost half an hour with all the Spanish journalists who have accompanied him during another historic tournament and reflects on the achievement, the ghosts caused by the injury to his forearm and the maturation process in which it is immersed.

“Yesterday I celebrated with my family, with the people who came from Murcia, with my friends,” he took No. 2 in the PIF ATP Rankings on Sunday night. “We went to dinner and obviously I did everything I hadn’t been doing during the tournament, and I ate what I wasn’t eating. I am a little careful with the gluten issue… yesterday I took my foot off the accelerator and got carried away a little. In addition, we would have to toast with champagne, it was the occasion,” added the Spaniard. “Then I left early and that’s it. Today I am on cloud nine,” he said with a smile.

“You have to enjoy these types of moments,” said the Murcian. “After all the work, all the suffering to win a trophy like this, you have to enjoy it a little. It is something that I am learning, even though I am still 21 years old and still knowing myself: what I need, what I don’t need, how to do it, how not to do it,” he declared. “I’m realizing that you have to combine working and suffering with those days of rest and the freedom to do what you like, to not feel like a tennis player but a normal kid. That helps you isolate yourself a little and clear your mind and then get back on track at 100%.”

To reach that “cloud”, to enjoy the moment celebrating with his loved ones, Alcaraz has overcome some tremendously complicated months, full of curves. At the beginning of the European clay court tour, when he was already in Monte Carlo preparing for his debut in the tournament, the Spaniard announced his withdrawal from the third ATP Masters 1000 of the course as a result of problems in his right forearm, which also prevented him from defending his title in Barcelona. Although he played in Madrid, where he was also the current champion, he lost in the quarterfinals to Andrey Rublev and the pain reappeared, forcing him to leave Rome and putting his preparation for Roland Garros in check.

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“I tend to cry more out of frustration than out of happiness,” confessed the 21-year-old. “I don’t cry a lot, but with the injury issue I have done it a couple of times when I had to miss certain tournaments that I was very excited about,” he added.

“Mentally it was anguish,” Alcaraz acknowledged. “You use your right arm for everything. I print a lot of speed and strength in each blow and my forearm suffers a lot. “I was worried that I might not recover 100%,” he continued. “In Madrid I played four games and it bothered me in the fourth. I couldn’t go to Rome, we did tests and all the things we had to do to get here as best as possible, but in my head I kept asking myself questions.”

Thus, and despite the fact that after resigning from Rome he was unable to pick up the racket for several days, Alcaraz began a work plan with his team to try to be ready on the day of the start of Roland Garros. And, given Sunday’s result, it worked.

“I was a little uncertain about how my arm would react to a Grand Slam, the best of five sets,” he said. “It has been complicated, but as the rounds have gone by I have been feeling good, without any pain, although with caution,” he continued. “The day of the semifinals was when I no longer had to be inhibited when it came to hitting the forehand. There I said: ‘if I break, if it hurts, let it be here.’ It was not the time to be afraid and we had to trust in all the work we had done to forget about that.”

And it has been all that work, done previously and also during the two weeks of Roland Garros, that has allowed the Murcian to fulfill another dream to continue living something unique, special and unrepeatable.

“I also watch the videos from when I was little and I was in Paris under the Eiffel Tower following Roland Garros,” said Alcaraz. “Raising this glass some time later… they are beautiful moments. I’m living a dream. Roland Garros is very special for me because it was the tournament I followed since I was little. I really wanted it to arrive so I could sit in front of the TV and watch all the games, and now…”

Having become the youngest player to win three majors on all three surfaces (hard court, grass and clay) has automatically caused the door of comparison to open again with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the three players who have shattered unimaginable records for almost two decades.

“I have seen videos but in the end with some highlights I cannot compare myself to them when I was my age,” Alcaraz reasoned. “And in the end, as I have always said, it doesn’t matter what I have achieved at this age if I stagnate here. “I want to continue my career, I want to continue growing and get to where Djokovic, Rafa, Federer are… The good ones, the stars, have continued to improve and improve until they reach 37 or 38,” he noted.

“To endure for 16 or 17 years at the top fighting for big titles season after season, dealing with pressure, with injuries, with everything… is something out of the ordinary and something that few achieve,” praised the Spaniard. “So I think it is mental strength and head that perhaps tomorrow will make me be in that debate.”

Mental strength, without a doubt, is another of Alcaraz’s great victories in this Roland Garros. If in 2023 he said goodbye in the semifinals after losing to Novak Djokovic, suffering some cramps in the middle of the match as a result of the tension, in 2024 he has learned to manage that pressure, as has been demonstrated after beating Jannik Sinner and Alexander Zverev in the semifinals and the final, surviving both rivals in the fifth set.

“Last year I clearly failed that subject, but this time we came with our homework done,” celebrated the Spaniard. “This year I have been able to do much better. I think I have passed a subject that I had pending, but not with registration. It is a job that I have to continue improving and as the years go by I will feel even better.”

After returning from the short vacation that begins this afternoon, Alcaraz will begin training on grass to play at Queen’s and Wimbledon (in both tournaments he defends the title) and then will return to clay thinking about the Paris Olympic Games, where in addition to playing In the individual category he will be paired with Nadal in the doubles draw. The question, then, is clear: would he prefer to retain the crown at Wimbledon or win a gold medal in Paris?

“The Olympic Games are every four years and it is a special tournament where you do not play for yourself, but you do it for a country representing all Spaniards,” Alcaraz analyzed. “I think that this year I would choose an Olympic gold.”

Since Sunday, the word of a Roland Garros champion.


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