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Carlos Alcaraz: Barty gets the full Alcaraz Experience as tennis phenom ‘suf...

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Published Time: 03.07.2024 - 21:01:27 Modified Time: 03.07.2024 - 21:01:27

“One of the first things I always notice ( Carlos) is just his athleticism,” Barty said. Carlos Alcaraz


They gasped when the Spaniard unleashed his forehand. There were ‘ooohs’ when the defending champion knifed under the ball for a drop shot. And the ‘aaahs’ were laced with a sense of being awe-struck after the three-time major winner bludgeoned backhands, as he did when clinching the second set with a blistering shot on route to a 7-6 (5) 6-2 6-2 victory in 1hr 48min.

“One of the first things I always notice ( Carlos) is just his athleticism,” Barty said.

“Being able to make his opponents play balls and almost have to win the point two, three and four times over … over five sets, that builds pressure. Look at those hands (of his). It is a complete game, isn’t it?”

Alcaraz is said to have moulded his game by watching and working through his teenage years on the attributes of the greats who foreshadowed his emergence on to the tour.

He carries the intensity of his compatriot Rafael Nadal, the flair and audacity of Roger Federer and the ease of movement and defensive court coverage of Novak Djokovic.

Alcaraz might even be more dynamic and explosive than the trio, such is the phenomenal power in his legs, which allows him the thunder

groundstrokes with the rarest of venom.

John McEnroe, who provided an analysis of Alcaraz alongside Barty, has said in the past he believes the Spaniard is better at the age of 21 then the ‘Big Three’ were at the same stage.

He saw nothing on Wednesday to alter that claim and believes Alcaraz can change the way tennis is played in the future given his willingness to come to the net, noting the kids watching him play now will try to mimic his style similarly to the way he borrowed from the greats.

“At 21 … he is better at this moment (than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic). He has to keep doing it,” McEnroe said.

“It is hard to imagine, in a way, how much better he could get, because he does everything well. He just has to stay at that level and enjoy it.

“He is in the top couple of players athletically (that I have ever seen). If I knew a 12-year-old kid trying to learn tennis, I would be encouraging them to watch him.”

Vukic, to his great credit, deserved acclaim for his role as the foil to the fabled one on Crt 1 and received a standing ovation afterwards.

A recent semifinalist at Eastbourne, Vukic is not intimidated by either the stage or reputation of his rivals, as evidenced when taking a set from Djokovic at Indian Wells in March, which is something the late-blooming Australian can build on.

The 28-year-old whipped shots that had the crowd gasping in awe as well and had the power to be able to stick with Alcaraz for a period from the baseline.

Having retrieved a service break to her back on level terms when Alcaraz was serving for the opening set, the Australian silenced the crowd when breaking again to move to a 6-5 lead.

But that awakened the world No. 3, who fired back against a rival who had beaten him when he was a kid in French Open qualifying four years ago to give him the full Alcaraz experience.

From serve-and-volleying to patience from the baseline, from thunderstruck forehands to the deftest touch at the net, Alcaraz delivered every shot that he had in his cast repertoire and closed out the match with a flat ace struck at 200kmh.

In the end, Vukic was among those left applauding a man he dearly wished he could have beaten.

“It was a really cool experience to be able to compete on a court like that against one of the best players in the world at the moment, (someone) who will be at the top of the game for a while,” Vukic said.

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