You can only hope that you are witnessing history right now. You obviously can’t know until the perspective of time begins. You tell yourself this moment or that moment Feel Different from the ones you think you’ve seen. But is it so? Are you just telling yourself that? You can tell yourself anything that is enough to finally convince yourself that you feel it.
Carlos Alcaraz will definitely win the US Open Feel Like a player on the ATP Tour has started in the steps that lead to where only Nadal, Federer or Djokovic lives. Tennis fans have wanted it for a while now, and it was as amazing as the dominance and brilliance of these three. There was an accidental rapist, but I didn’t feel like it. At least, that’s what we’re saying now.
Which is terribly unfair to any player or karase. What Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have done for a decade and a half are things we’ve never seen before. Sure, there have been great champions before, and Pete Sampras walked off the scene just a year before Federer won his first Wimbledon. But for most people, Sampras just won. There was no flash of it, or anything signature about it. He’s been really good at a lot of things, things we’ve seen other players are really good at and not comprehensively. We’ve seen great servers, great online players, or strong off-ground players, and Sampras was all of those things, but not in any great way. It was the toughness across all of them that made him great.
The three pillars that dominated the game were somehow amazing. Federer’s ingenuity, Nadal’s challenge to hit winners from the most defensive positions, Djokovic’s economic consistency. These things were beyond our thoughts before they showed us that it was possible.
So asking any player, let alone a 19-year-old, to declare that they can do things we never thought possible before is the most impossible criterion. Other players came for air for a while, but maintaining that standard for a longer period of panting was too much. As it should rightly be. That’s what makes these three these three.
And perhaps Alcaraz won’t stay there. But it sure feels like something changed in men’s tennis over this tournament. Sure, Nadal’s body still hasn’t returned to previous strength, and it may never again. Djokovic couldn’t overcome his brain droppings. We won’t know for sure until Alcaraz stares down one or both in a grand slam, and maybe by the time he gets a chance, time and mileage will have done most of the job anyway.
Still, any fan can’t help but be giddy at the idea that the fantasy of putting Nadal’s legs and determination on Federer’s vision and feel has actually come to life. Because that’s what Alcaraz flashes a whole lot:
And Alcaraz is ahead of where those three were when they were teenagers. Nadal claimed his first French Open at 19, but at that time was still seen as a clay court specialist who needed to greatly adjust his serve and his game to deal with surfaces that didn’t give him so much time or accentuate his spin. Federer was still harnessing all the things that made him Federer and didn’t claim his first Grand Slam until just before his 22nd birthday. Djokovic was just the yappy kid with the big potential who did funny impressions of his cohorts.
Alcaraz claimed a Grand Slam on what is not his favorite surface, yet. His serve could still use some more boom, but his net game shows otherworldly feel while his shotmaking from the baseline is, quite simply, antisocial. He has far more pieces in place.
While the generation before him couldn’t bring themselves to the level of the three on top, it already feels like Alcaraz’s contemporaries are eager to chase him, such as Tiafoe, Sinner, Ruud. They’re going to have to. We don’t know for sure yet, but it feels like, to regularly beat him, you’ll have to join him at the top of Olympus.
That’s where the perfect combination of Federer’s ice and Nadal’s fire would have to call home.
And on the lighter side of yesterday, literally, here’s how you don’t tailgate:
I can’t imagine standing on a sea of asphalt on a late summer day in South Florida is all that pleasant anyway. Wasn’t this one of those “Mayhem” ads?
We’ll cap it off with Real Madrid’s Fede Valverde pulling the “fuck you I’m scoring” lever that we didn’t know was available to him. Most of us can’t even run this far: