Former Grand Slam champion's comments put heavy pressure on Carlos Alcaraz

Alcaraz hopes to accomplish this goal just once.

Tennis fans are still waiting to see if Rafael Nadal will be healthy enough to compete in what very likely could be his final French Open. After trying to make a comeback from hip surgery, Nadal played in one event at the beginning of 2024 and aggravated the same hip. He then played in the Netflix Slam, an exhibition match that likely made him a lot of money, but he appears to have suffered or made worse a back injury. Nadal has not played since.

His opponent in the Netflix Slam, however, could be ready to take his fellow Spaniard's lead and become the new king of clay. That player is, of course, Carlos Alcaraz, who has already won two Grand Slams and reached No. 1 on the ATP tour but is still only 20 years old. Even if Nadal is healthy enough to play at Roland Garros, Alcaraz could defeat him there if the two play.

Former ATP No. 1 Mats Wilander certainly thinks Alcaraz should be the favorite at the French Open. No pressure, young Carlito. And Wilander does not think that anyone else should be close to challenging Alcaraz at the next major, and that includes Jannik Sinner.

Mats Wilander highly praises Carlos Alcaraz (sort of)

According to Eurosport, Wilander feels Alcaraz is a "heavy, heavy favorite" to win the French and said, "I think Carlos Alcaraz will come into the French Open as a heavy, heavy favorite for many more years than Jannik Sinner."

So forget just 2024, even if Sinner continues his current form - which may be difficult because he is currently playing as well as nearly anyone ever has to begin a year - Alcaraz should still be the favorite on clay. This is because Wilander does not feel the Italian controls points well enough and tries to win too many points from the baseline.

Wilander did not just stop with the Alcaraz love when speaking about being favored at Roland Garros, however. The Swede thinks Alcaraz could "become the second most important tennis player to ever play our sport because of what he brings to the court." That is some extreme hyperbole.

Oddly, though, even while praising Alcaraz, Wilander measured his words. Should the Spaniard be favored at the French Open, he might still not win as many titles at Roland Garros as Sinner and Sinner might have more weeks atop the ATP rankings than Alcaraz. In essence, Wilander seems to be saying that Alcaraz is a better player in terms of raw skills than Sinner, but Sinner has a better mentality for long-term success.

Wilander said that even though Alcaraz might be so important that "doesn't mean that the consistency in the rankings is going to be in the same way as a Novak Djokovic or even like a Jannik Sinner. It's not the way he plays tennis."

Plus, even though Alcaraz might favored more times over the years to win the French, "that doesn’t mean that Sinner, over five sets, won’t win the French Open as many times as Alcaraz, because three out of five sets is a massive advantage for Sinner, being so level-headed the whole time."

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