Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest Miami Open presented by Itau champion in tournament history on Sunday, a result that will propel him to a career-high No. 11 in the ATP Rankings. Still only 18, there are plenty of questions about how high the Spanish teen will climb. Is he a potential future World No. 1?
Alcaraz’s coach, former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, wants to protect his charge from those discussions.
“Let him flow. I think the goals and our thoughts about what’s going to be and what he can reach, now it’s very difficult to say. Let him play,” Ferrero said. “I think he’s able to do a great year, even let’s cross [our] fingers [that] Grand Slams [are] maybe [the] next step, to maybe be part [of them] at the end of the second week.
“But of course he has to practise and he has to stay focused, because now I think it’s very easy to unfocus and people around [are] going to [give him] a lot of “Hellos”. So the team [will] make a bubble and [will] let him stay calm at home these days, and then [he will] go back, work normally, and then go to Monte-Carlo and try to give his best, as always, as there is no other way.”
Ferrero was not in Miami through the semi-finals because his father, Eduardo, passed away just before the tournament. But Alcaraz played his way deep into the ATP Masters 1000 event and dedicated his victories to Ferrero. Before the championship match, the former World No. 1 surprised the 18-year-old in Miami. He was proud of how the teen handled the situation.
“After this happened, it was tough for me, it was tough for him,” Ferrero said of not being in Miami. “And even like this he could stay at the same level and trying… to stay even more focussed.”
Ferrero began coaching Alcaraz in 2018. It did not take long for him to notice his countryman had something special.
“I remember when he was practising with some of the players that they were somewhat higher in the rankings than him, he was 16 or 17, and he could adapt his game to the level of the other players,” Ferrero said. “It means that he has something and is going to keep working on that and keep working every day. So his potential was there, and I was only [there] to let it flow and let it play and keep things in a good path.
“So it surprises me not at all, but of course it’s been very, very fast and very quick, so not easy to do it.”
Now Alcaraz will shift his attention to the clay-court season, where more attention will be on his every swing than ever. According to Ferrero, the key to preventing the hype from getting to Alcaraz will be too not think about it at all.
“[It is about being] normal, acting normal. Now we are going to go back, going to play some golf one day or two days, stay relaxed, and then go back to work,” Ferrero said. “It’s the way it has to be. Of course he just won a Masters 1000. It’s very important.
“It means that he’s growing up so fast. So we [are not] going to do anything strange or different than we have been doing in the past few months.”
You will not catch Ferrero talking to Alcaraz about how quickly he has climbed, his goals for him, or anything of that nature. The focus will be on the process, and the rest will take care of itself.
“We talk about the way he has to go the court, the way he has to practise, the way he has to act in these kind of situations, naturally mature, and try to believe in himself and try to understand how things go when you win, when you lose, no drama, as happy as he can be. So be normal,” Ferrero said.
“Of course the level is there, and I think it’s going to happen many times. It’s only prepare a little bit his mind to adapt to all the circus it’s going to be.”