resim 1846
resim 1846

(Madrid) Crowned after a crazy week a year ago in Madrid after beating Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the two big absentees from the 2023 edition, Carlos Alcaraz is aiming for the double in the Spanish capital, one month away from Roland-Garros (May 28-June 11).

Like a year ago, the world No.2 arrives in Madrid freshly titled in Barcelona.

But in a year, the Spanish phenomenon – who will celebrate his 20th birthday on May 5 during the Madrid tournament – has grown well, becoming a Grand Slam winner at the United States Open last September, and world No.1, a throne recovered by Djokovic since.

So that in the absence of Djokovic and Nadal, he is the big favorite of the Madrid Masters 1000. Even more when we see how he mistreated Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world No.5 clay court specialist, in the final in Catalonia on Sunday, to offer himself his third trophy of the season, after Buenos Aires and Indian Wells.

“Physically, I feel 100%. I really want to start [the tournament], with the level I showed in Barcelona, ​​I come with a lot of confidence,” warns Alcaraz.

“My intention is to have fun on the court, and to make people have fun. I like to play in front of so many people, especially if it’s in Spain, in front of my relatives, it’s a very big motivation, “continues the Juan-Carlos Ferrero protege.

In one year, “my game hasn’t changed much, the difference between last year’s Carlos and this year’s is that I’ve gained experience, maturity,” he says. .

Exempted from the first round, Alcaraz will start at the end of the week against the Frenchman Ugo Humbert (77th) or the Finn Emil Ruusuvuori (41st). He could find Alexander Zverev, finalist in 2022, in the round of 16, and why not Tsitsipas again in the final.

Around the Nadal case during this time, the doubts do not really dissipate.

The Mallorcan with 22 Grand Slam trophies, injured in a hip muscle since the Australian Open in January, has not played in competition since. Package in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, at best the clay giant will launch its season on ocher in Rome, twenty days from Roland-Garros.

“My wound is still not healed. Its evolution was not the one that had been indicated to us at the beginning. I can’t give any timelines, because I don’t know them,” says “Rafa,” who implemented another treatment recently, in a video posted to social media last week.

“There is not much missing for him to return to competition, assured his uncle and former coach Toni Nadal on Spanish television on Tuesday. Obviously, he will not arrive with good preparation, we must not hide our face […] But Rafael knows how to get back in shape quickly. »

Djokovic, back on the circuit in his version of the bad days in Monte-Carlo then Banja Luka (Bosnia), where he lost respectively in the round of 16 and the quarter-finals, and caught by an elbow alert which had caused suffering several years ago, preferred to skip the Madrid tournament.

Alcaraz (and he is not the only one) could dethrone him from the place of world No.1 before Roland-Garros, if he retains the title in Madrid and lines up well in Rome the following week, or even he reached both finals.

“Becoming N.1 again is a goal but, compared to Paris, it doesn’t change much,” he evacuates.

also follow in the Caja Magica of Madrid, two other men in form: the Dane Holger Rune, also not yet twenty years old, recent finalist in Monte-Carlo and winner in Munich, and the Russian Andrey Rublev, he victorious in the Principality and finalist in Banja Luka.

The Tunisian Ons Jabeur, she must give up defending her title there, victim of a tear in the left calf last week in Stuttgart (Germany). The rest of the top 5, led by the Polish Iga Swiatek and closed by Caroline Garcia, is there.