Tennis, a month at Roland Garros: Alcaraz is ready, Djokovic is not yet

A month at Roland Garros. In fact, minus: 26 days. On Sunday May 22 we start with the second slam of the season and after 2 weeks on clay, with the Masters 1000 in Madrid and Rome on the horizon, it is not forbidden to make an initial balance. Also for things to talk about, the week of tennis b&bBarcelona and Belgrade, has given us several. Carlos Alcarz on one side, Novak Djokovic on the other. The first, very smart. The second, a little less.

It seems heresy, a paradox of the world turned upside down, but the field has given quite eloquent indications in this regard. In the first place about the young phenomenon of the Spanish racket. By phenomenon, a term that is often abused in the world of sports, in this case it is. After Miami we were waiting for Alcaraz on clay because his tennis, on this surface, could be even more incisive. And Alcaraz took very little time. One week to get rid of Florida’s waste in Monte Carlo, and here he takes the fourth tournament of his career in Barcelona, ​​the third this year. And here we could start mentioning some numbers. We could say that Alcaraz is third in the Race. However, he “third” in quotes. The feeling of fact at this very moment in tennisMonday, April 25, 2022, is that the 18-year-old Spaniard is the strongest tennis player on the circuit. With Nadal (Race 1) trying to get out of the pits and Tsitsipas joking at times in the quarterfinals played on Catalan soil, Alcaraz not only showed that he can play with everyone, but that he is already capable of beating everyone. After all, he’s already made a splash on the American hard courts of Indian Wells and Miami; and prolonged in the land of Barcelona, ​​​​where the young Iberian has even come to stone. The photograph of the excessive power, in addition to the first hour of play with Tsitsipas, who came fresh from the title in Monte Carlo, on Sunday, when after having survived 2 match points and 3 hours and 43 of play with De Minaur, Alcaraz entered to the field of play and as if nothing happened, he took away poor Carreño Busta, who was seen running over a speeding train.

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In short, Alcaraz told us, after the Monegasque readjustment, that he is not only ready, but very prepared for Roland Garros. And by very fast we do not mean dismemberment. By very smart we mean winning. His numbers are not random. You do not win 11 finals of 13 plays in your career at all levels (Futures, Challenger, ATP), of which 8 consecutive. You don’t accidentally break into the Top 10 at 18. You don’t become the eighth youngest in the Open era to break the Top 9 wall. Alcaraz is a full-fledged contender that we must now treat as such beyond the identity card. Getting out of this very Italian perspective of “still young” is a useful exercise that we should try to get used to.

Oneself Charlie Brown therefore, he has ambitions for royal titles in Paris, on the other side of the Mediterranean, beyond the Adriatic, Novak Djokovic told us very clearly not be ready yet. From many points of view. maybe too many. Although 26 days is a good amount of time to try to fix things. In the first place is tennis. At the beginning of the week in particular, Nole was almost unrecognizable. Although physically somewhat brighter than the Monegasque exit, Djokovic’s tennis has long disappeared the intensity and above all the ability to take away the response time. The Serbian played you go too shy, almost with the parking brake on, almost as if he had to handle a tank that, in any case, he perceived as an exhaust. And it is no coincidence that he sank into all of them: Djere, Kecmanovic, Khachanov and Rublev. 3 out of 4 came out of it due to a series of factors unrelated to the pure game: charisma, curriculum, public push. But then came a more concrete obstacle like Rublev; and Djokovic has shown the current limits of him, especially that of too little energy reserve. Here, that’s the point. The Serbian made us understand with his statements that he was coming off a difficult period. One might think of the long wave of a new covid contagion, given that in Ivanisevic’s interview with Ubaldo Scanagatta broadcast in Monte Carlo, the Serbian coach made it clear that Nole was not doing well in the Principality. The complete blackout of the final with Rublev in the third set -bagel immediately- showed a completely empty Nole even in Belgrade.

And this is not a great sign. Clay is the most expensive of surfaces, Djokovic has played very little this year and not being at his best from a physical point of view does not help the Serb in the next performance of his tennis. He now has a week of filming to try to recharge, then appointments in Madrid and Rome. The feeling is that the gap to be filled is still wide, as are the energies to be confiscated and the leg rolling, which then turns into cement tennis played at high speeds, which Djokovic has never shown so far in all of 2022. In short, it will not be simple or obvious as many hastily claimed when the fall of the restrictions linked to Covid reopened the doors of the circuit to number 1 in the world.

Speaking of people more or less prepared for Roland Garros, a necessary parenthesis on women’s tennis. In Stuttgart, a high-level tournament for several participants, Iga Swiatek showed that racket in pink a dominatrix has it all right. Apart from “missing a fort”. The Polo, No. 1 in the world, is a moving train. In the last 61 days, Swiatek has won 23 games in a row. The last to succeed in such a thing as Serena Williams between Miami and Rome in 2013. We also add another detail, which, as in the case of Alacarz, is a thermometer of the athlete’s stature: performance in the finals. Here, the Swiatek not only made 7 of 7 in finals played from Roland Garros 2020 to today, but he won them literally destroying opponents. 6-4 6-1 for Kenin (RG). 6-2 6-2 for Bencic (Adelaide). 6-0 6-0 for Pliskova (Rome). 6-2 6-0 in Kontaveit (Doha). 6-4 6-1 for Sakkari (Indian Wells). 6-4 6-0 to Osaka (Miami). 6-2 6-2 at Sabalenka (Stuttgart). Now, if you don’t like women’s tennis that’s another thing, but to say you’re missing a top player is bullshit. Iga Swiatek is not strong: he is very strong.

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