Feliciano Lopez says Carlos Alcaraz has been an inspiration for the Spanish Davis Cup team as they prepare to defend their title over the next week.
Alcaraz, 18, is set to cap off a breakthrough season by playing for his country for the first time in the Davis Cup finals. He has won his first ATP Tour title in 2021, secured two top-10 wins, reached No 32 in the world, and lifted the trophy at the Next Gen Finals in Milan.
Alcaraz is 12 years younger than any of his Davis Cup team-mates and 22 years younger than Lopez, who has been on the ATP Tour since 1998.
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“It’s true that I haven’t seen many players like Carlos in the past”, said Lopez.
“For an 18-year-old kid it's really impressive what he’s achieved so far. It’s really amazing the way he plays, of course. His attitude on court is really inspiring for us, for the players and people watching him as well. He’s one the players who you want to watch. But if I have to say one thing it will be probably that it’s very rare to see an 18-year-old kid behaving like he does on the court. This is unusual to see.
“I don’t really have any advice for him. He’s way better than I was at his age, so what can I say to him? He’s showed to everyone that he’s prepared for this challenge. He’s going to have great support from everyone.”
It was expected that Alcaraz would face a fight for court time with top-20 duo Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta set to lead the team in singles.
However, Bautista Agut’s injury withdrawal should see Alcaraz promoted to the No 2 position behind Carreno Busta.
So what does it mean to him to get the chance to play for Spain for the first time?
“It’s a dream come true”, he said. “This tournament, I’ve watched it since I was a kid. I remember when I came to watch David Ferrer against [Philipp] Kohlschreiber in Valencia. It was really amazing and I remember I thought that one day I would be in his position.
“I always wished to represent Spain in the Davis Cup.
“Throughout the year, I’ve been doing things well, and the results have been good. But even if they had not been good, I would have been satisfied with the work I have done. I am earning the respect on court, little by little I am starting to be known in the circuit and out of it.

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"In the end, you get used to people recognising you. It’s been so quick, all in less than a year. But all this doesn’t prevent me from having the will to keep improving, to keep growing as a player and as a person. I know the path that I need to follow to fulfil my dream.”
Spain start their group campaign against Ecuador on Friday before a tantalising clash against Russia.
They will play all their matches in Madrid, where Alcaraz celebrated his 18th birthday earlier this year by playing Spanish legend Rafael Nadal.
“Of all the experiences, of all the matches that I played throughout the year, the one with Rafa on my 18th birthday helped me the most”, he said.
“I always say that we learn from experience, you need to live the moments, you need to play the matches, to fail, to fall, and from all those difficult moments, from the moments I didn’t know how to deal with, I have learnt.
“I’ve had the fortune of playing a lot of important tournaments against big players in big stadiums and from all those moments, I have learnt. I’m also working with a psychologist who, to be honest, has been helping me a lot, I think that without her I wouldn’t be here right now.”
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