Alex Corretja has been hugely impressed with Carlos Alcaraz’s showing at the 2022 Australian Open and thinks he is going to be a “very special” player.
After a breakthrough year in 2021, Alcaraz has bulked up physically and has powered through his opening two matches in Melbourne without dropping a set.
Seeded No. 31, he next faces an intriguing clash against seventh seed Matteo Berrettini.
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“I’ve been very impressed with Alcaraz,” former world No. 2 Corretja told Eurosport.
“He’s stronger, he’s hitting the ball harder than ever. His forehand is just amazing. He’s smashing the ball and he’s moving well. His attitude his perfect, it is great.
“I am very enthusiastic about it and I believe we will have someone very special in the tennis world. He has got charisma, he has got personality, he’s well-educated, so I think Alcaraz is going to be one of the guys to watch at this tournament.”
Alcaraz’s physical development has caught the eye at the Australian Open as he has been playing with a sleeveless top to show off his bulging arm muscles.
He has said that over the off-season one of his goals was to “get strong, to get more power”.
Corretja thinks the 18-year-old is striking the right balance at the moment with his physique.
“He is very strong, he spends lot of time at the gym doing lots of exercises and he has just become bigger and bigger. The important thing is not to go too much and you maybe lose a bit of movement or flexibility. But watching him at the moment you can see that he is adapting well.
“It is only the first tournament he has played this year, he hasn’t played any other tournament in 2022 so that means he doesn’t have to play too many matches to feel good. It’s just because he’s young, he’s brave and he truly believes in himself.”
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Alcaraz’s breakthrough year in 2021 included making the quarter-finals of the US Open, winning his first ATP title, beating three top-10 players, including Berrettini, and winning the Next Gen Finals.
Aged 18 he is the youngest player to be seeded at a major since Michael Chang at the 1990 US Open.
His early career success, along with his hard-hitting playing style and now the sleeveless top, have earned Alcaraz comparisons to fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
But Corretja says: "You can’t compare Alcaraz with anyone, because they are different,
“Nadal is a leftie, Alcaraz is right-handed. They have got some similarities, yes, they both have this great attitude, they move well and they just go for it, they are not afraid and don’t feel any fear to play against a good opponent but we just need to let him go his way.
“To compare him with someone who has won 20 Grand Slams, millions of tournaments and Masters 1000s I don’t think it’s normal. Alcaraz will have his own career, you cannot compare him to Rafa – and if you do compare him it is about certain things, not from a results point of view because this is a debate that just doesn’t make sense.
“He’s young, he knows what he wants, and when he steps onto the court he feels he can beat anybody in the world. He is going to be a very difficult player to beat. Against Berrettini, it will be a huge match, because both players have a great forehand and it’s going to be an unbelievable match to watch.”
Alcaraz is set to face Berrettini, who has dropped a set in both his matches, on Friday in Melbourne.
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