Carlos Alcaraz explains snubbing Rafael Nadal for Roger Federer

Carlos Alcaraz has explained why Roger Federer was his childhood idol instead of Rafael Nadal, despite echoing parts of his countryman’s career. The world No 2 said he was “enchanted” by the Swiss star and admitted that he had a new understanding of the Big Three’s achievements after winning his own Grand Slam title at last year’s US Open.

Alcaraz enjoyed a breakthrough season last year, starting 2022 ranked at No 32 in the world and ending it as the year-end No 1. The 19-year-old had been tipped as something of a successor to Nadal and proved the theory right when he mirrored some of the world No 6’s achievements – winning Barcelona and breaking into the top 10 exactly 17 years to the day that Nadal achieved the two feats and later becoming the first teenager since the Spaniard in 2005 to win a Major title. 

While Nadal and Alcaraz have multiple similarities and are both Spanish, old footage of the seven-time title winner shows him claiming Federer was his idol as a child, and the world No 2 has now addressed his choice to snub his compatriot for the 20-time Major champion. “Rafa is someone I’ve always watched,” the 19-year-old told Vogue.

“I admire him a lot. But Federer, the class he had, the way he got people to see tennis: That was beautiful. Watching Federer is like looking at a work of art. It’s elegance, he did everything magnificently. I became enchanted by him.”

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And the US Open champion also revealed that he had something of a newfound respect for Nadal, Federer and their Big Three rival Novak Djokovic after winning his maiden Grand Slam title at the age of 19. Alcaraz has already been tipped to follow in the Big Three’s footsteps by winning multiple Grand Slams, with Nadal and Djokovic tied on the men’s record of 22 titles while Federer holds 20.

But the Spanish teenager has realised just how hard that will be after getting his hands on one, as he said: “What Rafa, Roger, and Djokovic have done is almost impossible. I think when you’ve won your first Grand Slam you realise how complicated that is.”


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With Alcaraz’s 20th birthday still just over two months away, he has already reached the pinnacle of the sport as a teenager – ascending to world No 1 and winning a Major. But his motivation hasn’t waned, as the world No 2 is dreaming even bigger and has already started 2023 with a title win in Argentina.

“I’m going to keep wanting to make my dream come true,” he said of his next steps, “even though I already have.” 

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