By Andrea Montolivo
New York, Sep 12 (EFE).- Just hours after winning the US Open and becoming the youngest world No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings, Spanish 19-year-old tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz said in an interview with Efe Monday in his New York City hotel room that the magnitude of what he has achieved still has not sunk in yet.
He also said he hopes the title he won at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 victory over Norway’s Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final is the first of many.
Question: Were you able to sleep last night? Have you been able to assimilate what you’ve achieved?
Answer: I was able to rest. I hadn’t been sleeping much for a few days and wasn’t able to rest as much as I’d have liked. Obviously a lot of emotions. Honestly, the magnitude of what I’ve done hasn’t sunk in yet.
Q: You’re the youngest No. 1 ever. Did you expect to achieve that goal at this age?
A: Honestly, I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d become the youngest world No. 1 in history. It’s incredible. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I started playing tennis, and it’s something I’ve worked very hard for … Even so, I’m surprised.
Q: The “I’m like a bull!” remark you shouted out after saving a match point in the fourth set of your quarterfinal match against Jannik Sinner was a key moment in your tournament. Where did that come from?
A: It came from inside me in the spur of the moment. It just came out at that time. Positive messages at important moments like that are crucial … in such a demanding, long match, telling yourself that you’re OK, that you can take even more, is really positive.
Q: Your coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, said you’re at 60 percent of your potential. Who’s more demanding between the two of you?
A: We’re both demanding. I’m tough on myself and he’s tough on me. I’d say that he’s more demanding. He’s that way in everything, on and off the court.
Q: What’s your biggest challenge now?
A: Dealing with that pressure of playing as the No. 1, as the winner of a Grand Slam. I think that’s going to be tough.
Q: You’ve said you want to be like the “Big 3”: Rafa Nadal, Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic. What do you need to be like them?
A: Consistency. To be able to stay consistent for 20 years, winning everything, fighting for No. 1.
Q: You’ve shown yourself to be very strong mentally. How important has the work you’ve done with a psychologist been in that sense?
A: I’ve worked a lot. It’s true that sometimes you don’t have much time to have that many conversations, but I’ve worked well with my psychologist. Honestly, the improvement I’ve made on the mental side has been thanks to her too. It’s very important, something all athletes have to emphasize.
Q: This US Open has also been a triumph for Spanish tennis. What is it that makes Spanish players so special?
A: I’ve always said it – the weather we have is good for training, the food is very good, the atmosphere in Spain for me is great. And I think we have good coaches, good facilities, good players to train with. EFE