Carlos Alcaraz has spent most of his time leading up to the Australian Open by playing charity matches instead of warm-up tournaments. Maybe this is an attempt to hopefully stay fresh later in the year. In the last two years, Alcaraz has either finished with an injury or is seemingly just physically exhausted. But a recent match with Alex de Minaur won't exactly give Alcaraz a ton of confidence.
Alcaraz took on de Minaur at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park as part of the Australian Open charity events. The Spaniard had played Novak Djokovic in an exhibition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in late December and Alcaraz defeated Djokovic in three sets. Maybe the players weren't playing as hard as they would if that were the Wimbledon final, but a defeat of Djokovic at any point is good.
That is probably how de Minaur feels about beating Alcaraz which is exactly what the Australian did in the charity match on Wednesday. There is no player that should have a higher degree of confidence right now than de Minaur. He also defeated Djokovic during the United Cup earlier in January. De Minaur beat Alcaraz 6-4 5-7 10-3.
Alex de Minaur takes down Carlos Alcaraz, Andy Murray needs to 'stop'
Again, the match did not have the intensity of a Grand Slam final, but de Minaur will gain more confidence than he can beat any other player on tour right now. He also rose to No. 10 in the ATP rankings this week. He should not be counted out as a challenger for the Aussie Open title.
As for Alcaraz, Nikola Pilic, a former coach for Djokovic, thinks the Spaniard is hurting himself by playing too aggressively. Speaking with Vecernje Novosti, Pilic said, "...are you going to tell me that he will play for another 12 years like today? He's strong, and he's a good player, like it. But, his body is wasted, that is true. How many injuries has he had so far."
He is right too. Alcaraz needs to learn to pace himself a bit more while also knowing when to unleash his cannon forehand. And his cannon backhand. Alcaraz is great but tennis fans need him to be great in five-to-eight years as well.
Andy Murray also hopes to win another Grand Slam or three, but with all his injuries, that seems less and less likely. Speaking as part of Eurosport's coverage of the Australian Open, soccer player/footballer Rio Ferdinand, who knows a thing about being injured himself, says he thinks Murray just needs to stop playing, though.
Ferdinand said, "He’s got to leave it now. I’ve been there. Those injuries don’t go away, they keep getting worse and keep coming back. I’m done with hearing Andy Murray is still trying. What is he trying for? He ain’t got nothing else to prove." Well said.