Every year, another big expectation is heaped on a new grand slam champion.
Last year, it was Medvedev who pundits were speculating about. Having just won the US Open, the talk of the summer was where Medvedev would win next major in 2022. Many pundits believed that Medvedev would at least win 1 major in 2022. Earlier this year, Medvedev was gunning to become the first male player outside of the big-3 to win consecutive majors (since Andre Agassi in 1999-2000). Daniil was simply 2 games away from putting his hands on the trophy. However, in a most unexpected sequence, Nadal demonstrated the unthinkable to clinch the Australian Open trophy in an emphatic 5 hour 26 minute ordeal.
Similarly, when Dominic Thiem won the US Open in 2020, many thought that it would be like clockwork to see Thiem winning one major each year. Instead, he was a complete shadow on himself, succumbing to injury and failing to make the quarterfinal of a major for 2 straight years and counting. It definitely seemed like Thiem had hit a roadblock, much the way that Medvedev seemed to have in 2022. Many athletes and people in all walks of life fail to continue to replicate the highs of the previous year. That is completely normal. In the world of sport however, such an occurrence is often met with wild derision. Often in careers, there seems to be an almost endless need for better results than the previous year.
If we are talking about Carlos Alcaraz, the kid just turned 19 in May. He has already tumbled plenty of records. Youngest world number 1 in history. Youngest top 10 player since Rafael Nadal. Youngest top 5 player since Nadal. The 3rd Youngest player in history to enter the top 10. The first 18 year old to win a big title (Miami) since Nadal. In a few weeks, it is possible he will finish as one of the youngest year end world number 1’s in history.Yet the pressure being heaped on Alcaraz continues. Many will put Alcaraz as the favourite coming into the Australian Open. Is Alcaraz truly the favourite however? Do we simply ignore 9 time champion Novak Djokovic, or 22 time grand slam champion Nadal, who are also in the draw?
So, all in all, with the previous 2 grand slam champions failing to win a slam in the following season, is it time to lay off expectations for Alcaraz?