From El Palmar (Murcia) to the top-50 of the ranking, the Grand Slams, the NextGen Finals, the first titles … and now the Davis Cup. The year of the irruption of Carlos Alcaraz (18 years old) in the first row of world tennis has as a culmination and final prize his inclusion in the Spanish team for the competition by countries, which after a 2020 pandemic break returns to Madrid (main headquarters ) since Thursday with a new location, the Madrid Arena, replacing the Caja Mágica.
On the track with a capacity for 9,000 people that has been assembled in the Madrid venue, the boys of Sergi Bruguera have been training since Sunday, in a double session. First Bautista and Alcaraz, then Carreño and Feliciano López. The doubles player Granollers joined the gathering that same day from the ATP Finals, in which he reached the semifinals.
All but Alcaraz already have considerable Davis experience and were part of the champion team in 2019. The Murcian comes to fill the gap left by Rafa Nadal due to his physical problems. And although the gallons of the Balearic Islands must fall, by age and ranking, in Bautista, the majority of eyes will be on the new national hope.
Far from being daunted by it, Alcaraz grows up with expectations. “I hope to debut winning and with the stadium full,” launches Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil, who could become the second youngest Spaniard in history this Friday (at 18 years and six months) to debut in this tournament after Nadal, who did it with 17 years and 8 months, if Bruguera gives him the alternative in the first crossing, against Ecuador (4:00 p.m.).
Carlos claims to be enjoying “to the fullest” his call with the Navy. “The truth is that I am training quite well, and I am feeling very comfortable with the whole team,” he adds. These days he still does not receive much advice because, he clarifies, in training he does not get “nervous”. “Above all we are having a good time, trying to relax and enjoy to the fullest,” he confesses with the enthusiasm of the debutant, who is not a beginner, as he also sends a strong message to his next rivals: “Let them think that they are going to have a difficult time, that they are going to have to run and sweat a lot to win me. I want to make them feel a little bit scared.”
Junior champion. It is not Alcaraz’s first contact with Davis, as he was already a junior champion in 2018, but he acknowledges that “this is another world.” “When the captain told me, I did not believe it. It was a dream I had since I was a child and to be able to fulfill it when I was 18 years old is super beautiful and very special,” he adds. Now he hopes to learn “many things on and off the track” but “without pressure”, following Ferrero’s recommendations.. He assumes that the challenge, with the powerful Russia of Medvedev, Rublev and co in the group, is “difficult”, but is confident that he can do “something big”.