Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)
Only eight months ago, ample hype followed Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz to Paris, where he arrived to contest his first Grand Slam qualifying draw.
As the youngest Spaniard to have lifted a Challenger trophy since Rafael Nadal and with former world No.1 and 2003 Roland-Garros champion Juan Carlos Ferrero in his corner, the then 17-year-old bowed out in his opening match. It was invaluable experience, regardless of result, in a season in which he cleaned up in 20 of 24 Challenger matches.
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Now 18, Alcaraz has made healthy advances in 2021, including a first tour-level semi-final on home soil in Marbella last month, and winning a Masters 1000 match on debut in Madrid over Adrian Mannarino before facing Nadal for the first time. Brimming with confidence, despite defeat to his compatriot, he went on to win his first Challenger title of the season last week on clay in Oeiras, Portugal and with it a top-100 debut.
"To be able to get this title is something special,” Alcaraz told atptour.com. “It's the biggest moment of my career. I played at a high level all week, at a great tournament and against very good players. I think it's a great preparation for Roland-Garros [qualifying]. I'm just really happy."
Alcaraz commences his qualifying journey against Slovakian veteran Lukas Lacko.