Carlos Alcaraz appears to be one of the best young players to come around since, well…Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal were young. The 20-year-old Alcaraz already has two Grand Slam wins, including defeating Djokovic in the 2023 Wimbledon final. That the match went a full five sets and Alcaraz still won showed even more the skills that Alcaraz has; most other players would have wilted under the stress of beating arguably the greatest player ever in the grass-court major.
But Carlos Alcaraz struggled in the second half of 2023. He did not win a tournament after Wimbledon and he seemed to suffer from mental fatigue. He lost twice relatively early in tournaments and he was wiped away easily by Djokovic in the semifinals of the ATP Finals.
Former ATP No. 1 and current Holger Rune coach Boris Becker said while Alcaraz struggled the rest of the ATP field, especially Jannik Sinner, might have caught up to the Spaniard. Becker did not say, however, that he does not think Alcaraz can get back to being ranked No. 1 and win a bunch more majors. Tennis coach Rick Macci seems to have misunderstood Becker’s words, however.
Becker and Macci have small riff over Carlos Alcaraz
Speaking with the excellent Tennis Infinity, Macci said Carlos Alcaraz would only be better in the future because he will be inspired by not winning. According to Macci, “I think I read Boris Becker said ‘he didn’t get any better’. I disagree. I think he got better by losing, even though not by the result. He got better because it will motivate him to work on the mental game and solidify things a little bit…”
Again, Becker did not say Alcaraz did not improve or would not be great in the future, only that other players had improved at a more rapid rate than Carlos Alcaraz. And this makes sense and will help Alcaraz. Carlos Alcaraz was playing at such a high level at such a young age that he had no other young players pushing him to get better.
Now Alcaraz does. At the end of 2023, Jannik Sinner appeared to be playing at a higher level than Alcaraz. Sinner won three tournaments after July while Alcaraz did not win any. Sinner also defeated Djokovic twice in the span of two weeks in November.
Long-term, Sinner might not be better than Alcaraz, though he could be. Both players have all the skills to be elite for years. When Becker said other players got better while Alcaraz did not, he might as well have been speaking about Jannik Sinner.