Carlos Alcaraz poses with the Madrid Open trophy after defeating Alexander Zverev. / EFEFE

Spain's future tennis star is born

Carlos Alcaraz's wins over Zverev, Djokovic and Nadal at the Madrid Open topped off his incredible week

SHAY CONAGHAN MALAGA.

Carlos Alcaraz (now ranked world number 6) has had some week. The 19-year-old tennis player easily defeated Alexander Zverev (3rd) in straight sets on Sunday to lift his second title of the season in Madrid, after picking up his first in Miami Open earlier this year.

Alcaraz seems to have been born to play these types of matches, and it doesn't seem likely that he'd lose any of them. Zverev was incapable of countering anything he did, and watching the youngster means that anything could happen.

So that means that for Alcaraz, it's impossible to set a limit on his potential, as this latest win increased his 2022 trophy tally to four and also improved his - so far - impeccable unbeaten record in finals, where he has won six out of six.

The young Spaniard completed the feat in the capital after a whirlwind week that saw him also hand out defeats to Novak Djokovic and fellow Spaniard Rafa Nadal in the semi and quarter-finals, respectively. Alcaraz's win over Nadal was as symbolic as it was impressive. Given that the Mallorcan is the undisputed 'King of Clay' thanks to his record-breaking 13 wins at teh French Open (which starts next week), it looked like he was handing over the baton to Alcaraz, who is his successor in everything but name.

Alcaraz's physical attributes are to be envied: he stands relatively tall at 1.85 metres, and on his slender figure rests pure muscle fibre. His physical change is evident, to the point where he's become a well-honed machine. He trains, competes and wins. Alcaraz, who was the future, is now the present.

Spectacular 2022 so far

And it was precisely the Roland Garros French Open organisers who highlighted the fact that the 19-year-old could be the next big thing on the Paris courts. On their Twitter account, the tournament said: "Carlos Alcaraz gets the biggest clay title of his career... For now." And it's not a far-fetched assumption that he could crown himself as Nadal's definitive successor come the end of the tournament.

Alcaraz has been on fire this year. No male player has won as many matches in 2022, as he tops the winners' leaderboard with a 28-3 win-loss record, only losing to Sebastian Korda, Rafa Nadal and Matteo Berrettini.

Even more impressive is his record when playing on clay, taking 16 wins and losing out just once. "He's the best player in the world right now," said Alexander Zverev after Sunday's final. The rankings might not reflect that, but Alcaraz is close to making it to the top.

Chirpy chap

It's easy to forget just how young he still is. Alcaraz, who likes to be called either 'Charlie' or 'Carlitos', said that he just applied what his grandfather had taught him when he was younger, such as being level-headed or having courage.

His constant ear-to-ear grin suggests that reality maybe has not sunk in yet, and that he's still a kid who loves playing tennis and enjoying the simple things in life. He visits his hometown of El Palmar (Murcia) whenever he can, and, up until a couple of years ago, he could be found on the local football pitches playing in games with his childhood friends.

His enthusiasm stems from the lesson Virginia Garfia, Carlitos' mother, taught her son: "Be happy, smile and never do bad by others." And that life lesson shines through Alcaraz both on and off the court.