Alcaraz ready for Grand Slam defence at Wimbledon after surging into elite group

Alcaraz ready for Grand Slam defence at Wimbledon after surging into elite group

(Reuters) – Carlos Alcaraz propelled himself into the Grand Slam all-surface elite following his triumph at Roland Garros and will arrive at Wimbledon hoping to further cement his place in the big league by successfully defending a major title for the first time.

The 21-year-old overcame a forearm issue to bag his first French Open title, emulating greats including Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi with major wins on clay, hard and grass courts.

Alcaraz’s triumph on the Parisian red dirt was the third Grand Slam trophy of his young career and followed the Spanish world number three’s breakthrough title at the 2022 US Open and epic Wimbledon victory 12 months ago.

The latter success stood out for the way Alcaraz quickly adapted to his least familiar surface by winning back-to-back titles after arriving for the 2023 British grasscourt season with only a handful of tour-level match wins on grass.

“I have more matches in my bank on grass and with the great run I had last year at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon, I know a bit on how to play and understand the game on grass,” said Alcaraz, who beat Djokovic in five sets in last year’s Wimbledon final.

“I’m more mature playing on this surface. The first practice I’ve done here, my movement wasn’t as good as last year but it’s a slow process. I have to be really focused in every practice and every match.”

Blessed with a forehand cannon and an all-action style that can often overwhelm the best in the game, the flamboyant Alcaraz will be one of the favourites at the All England Club despite his Queen’s Club title defence ending prematurely last week.

Competing without coach Juan Carlos Ferrero in his corner, Alcaraz was beaten in straight sets by inspired home favourite Jack Draper in the round of 16 but he vowed to return stronger at the manicured lawns of Wimbledon on July 1.

“It’s tough to deal with losses, but I think it’s part of our lives,” said Alcaraz, who has a 17-3 record on grass.

“After losses, you have to take the positive things and of course the negative things to improve for the next tournament. Right now I’m hungry just to be better.

“I’m really excited to start Wimbledon. I really want to win every title and Wimbledon is even more special. I have time, and I’m excited to start the first match on Centre Court.”

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