Tennis News: Carlos Alcaraz's 'mental weakness' and Elena Rybakina's wrong direction

  • Alcaraz gives numerous reasons for his recent loss
  • Rybakina feels tennis is going backward
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Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be getting back to his normal self at Indian Wells after he won his first title of 2024 and lost only two sets on his way to the final. One of those was to Jannik Sinner after Alcaraz lost the first set 1-6 and then only lost five more games the rest of the match. After struggling through injuries - and a bit of form concerns - he finally seemed healthy again. That was short-lived.

Alcaraz bounced out of the Miami Open in the quarterfinals but then missed a month with a forearm issue. He still had his arm wrapped recently and admitted to not being 100 percent healthy at the Madrid Masters even though he battled through to the quarterfinals. After taking the first set against Andrey Rublev, Rublev then dominated the final two sets 6-3 6-2. It was very un-Alcaraz like.

In the post-match press conference after his loss to the Russian, Alcaraz got real about his form. Sure, he was still battling the injury to his arm and he also had a cold, but the Spaniard said he simply was not in a good head space and he could not overcome himself or Rublev. The positive is that Alcaraz was healthy enough to play. The negative is that Alcaraz might be thinking about his arm as he is playing matches and that is no way to win.

Carlos Alcaraz doesn't feel mentally strong and Elena Rybakina is peeved

Alcaraz said in the press conference, "The long and intense match against (Jan-Lennard) Struff took its toll on me because it had been a while since I had competed at that level, and today I woke up with soreness all over my body, and my forearm. I also have a cold, but the main thing is that I have been much weaker mentally than normal...It bothers me a lot to see that I make stupid mistakes when I have options to break, for example..."

Speaking of something stupid, at least in the eyes of current WTA No. 4 Elena Rybakina, is the way tennis organizers schedule matches. Rybakina's main complaint with the current run of tournaments is there is little downtime between events. For instance, the Madrid Masters ends this weekend, followed only a few days later by the next Masters 1000 tournament in Rome, which is followed shortly thereafter by the French Open.

That is a lot of high-level events in successive order. A player may or may not have only a few days off (don't ask Caroline Garcia who recently complained she had too much time in between matches). Rybakina said tennis is going in the "wrong direction" in terms of understanding how to schedule matches and she "wasted a lot of energy" trying to fit all the events in over the last year or so.

During her run at the Madrid Masters and in one post-match interview, Rybakina said, "With the new rules (in terms of how rankings points are accrued) there is no room to choose, we are forced to compete in too many tournaments. We are going in the wrong direction, there is a lot to improve on the circuit and last year I wasted a lot of energy trying to change things...It’s not easy to perform when you are traveling so much and you have week-by-week tournaments."

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