Carlos Alcaraz Playing Style – Is He Really a Perfect Mixture of the Big Three?

You are no doubt acutely aware of the fact that there is a sensational young player emerging at the front of the tennis world. In fact, some would argue that he’s already there, especially given his status as world number 1 combined with the 2 Grand Slam titles he has to his name. Of course, the man I am talking about here is Carlos Alcaraz – a 20-year-old from Spain who has announced himself as ‘the next big thing’ in the men’s game. 

Now, Alcaraz burst onto the scene just a few short years ago, and his meteoric rise through the ATP rankings has been quite incredible. He surged through the rankings since turning professional in 2018, and today, he is on top of the men’s games. Not only that, but he’s even qualified for the 2023 ATP Finals already – pretty good going since we are just over halfway through the season (at the time of writing).

Carlos Alcaraz Playing Style

Anyway, his rankings, records, and the hype surrounding his future isn’t necessarily what I’d like to discuss today. Instead, I want to address a growing assumption among tennis fans that Alcaraz is indeed the perfect blend of the ‘big three’. But is that really true? And if so, what are these traits that Alcaraz possesses from three of the most successful men’s tennis players of all time?

Let’s take a closer look and investigate the traits that he seems to possess from each individual.

The Big Three Ingredients That Make Alcaraz’s Playing Style Quite Incredible

Just to clarify, when I’m referencing ‘the big three’, I am referencing Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal. This common phrase of the big three is something that these players have adopted over the years due to their phenomenal success on tour. And in case you needed any reminder, they have 60+ Grand Slam titles between them. However, it looks like Carlos Alcaraz has now established himself among these greats, and he certainly plans on spoiling the party.

So what is it that Alcaraz demonstrates concerning his playing style and the regular comparisons to the big three?

Roger Federer – Finesse and Attacking Abilities

Let me begin by providing the traits that he has mirrored courtesy of Roger Federer. If you look back at Federer in his glory days, sure, many would marvel at his effortless style of tennis. Now, I don’t know if you can call Carlos Alcaraz’s style of play effortless, but I believe he shows Federer’s attacking skills and finesse. Starting with the attacking skills, Alcaraz is already one of the hardest hitters on tour when he decides to pull the trigger – especially from the forehand wing.

He can flatten out the ball and hit a winner from just about anywhere on the court, just like the great Roger Federer. As for his finesse, his ability to come up with incredible drop shots, inch-perfect lobs, and delicate volleys when needed definitely reminds me of Federer in his prime.

Rafael Nadal – Speed and Defensive Skills

Now you know what Carlos Alcaraz has inherited from Roger Federer, how about his fellow Spaniard, Rafael Nadal? Of course, Nadal is hailed as the King of Clay for a reason, and he hasn’t won 14 Roland Garros titles by accident. Essentially, when he was younger, it was his speed that just destroyed opponents. His ability to just get every ball back and put the opponent under pressure with such retrievals was just outrageous at times, and Alcaraz does the exact same thing.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Carlos Alcaraz looks even faster around the court than Nadal in his heyday, although that’s a debate we can have another time. As for Alcaraz’s skills when he has his back against the wall in a rally, he can come up with jaw-dropping passing shots or even run down 3 or 4 extra balls if necessary – exactly like Rafael Nadal.

Novak Djokovic – The Power of the Mind

If you look at the most complete tennis player of these three, many would say Novak Djokovic. Even the best tennis players in the world regularly state that he just has no obvious weaknesses, which I tend to agree with. He’s insanely solid from the back of the court, he serves well, his returns are mind-blowing at times, and his net game isn’t too shabby either. But while all of this has helped Djokovic to become almost the undisputed GOAT of men’s tennis, none of these are as obvious in Alcaraz’s game as the aspect of mental strength.

This shone through for me in the Wimbledon final, when he displayed zero nerves to serve out the match and capture the title against Djokovic. 

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