Rome won’t see Alcaraz in action. Why does the 3rd racket of the world miss the next start of the season?

By | May 11, 2024

Until recently, the tennis community believed that the young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz would be a long-term leader on the ATP Tour. However, after a brilliant 2022 and a strong 2023, the 20-year-old native of El Palmar seems to be facing challenging times. He is constantly plagued by injuries, and there are debates about his playing style: has such a young, yet serious player truly found himself on the court?

It must be acknowledged that Alcaraz had faced health issues before. The end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 were particularly notable. Then, Carlos did not participate in the ATP Finals due to an abdominal muscle injury, and at the Australian Open, he withdrew because of a right leg muscle injury. In late February 2023, during the final match of the tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Carlos complained of pain in his right thigh, followed by a hamstring strain.

In the current season, the two-time champion withdrew from the first two clay tournaments due to pain in his right hand. In 2024, Alcaraz also missed the Monte-Carlo Masters. The Spaniard ended one of his training sessions in Monaco early, which he had conducted with a bandage on his right hand, and subsequently withdrew from the tournament due to right forearm pain. After the draw for the Barcelona “500” was published, it was revealed that Carlos had withdrawn from it as well, even though he was supposed to defend the title he had won for two consecutive seasons (2022-2023). Soon, Alcaraz shared details about the injury that led him to withdraw from the Barcelona tournament.

“It all started in Monte Carlo. During the first training session, I felt quite severe discomfort in the forearm area. At that moment, I thought it was not serious, but I could not perform in the tournament. I went home to see if I could recover, train, and then go to Barcelona in the best shape.

We did an MRI on Saturday morning, and the images showed positive dynamics. But on Sunday, during training, as I increased the intensity of my right-handed shots, the discomfort intensified.

It was very difficult for me to make this decision because the tournament in Barcelona is important to me. I want to return at the Masters in Madrid, but I cannot be 100% sure about it. We will try our best,” said Alcaraz at a press conference quoted by Punto de Break. Many experts quickly commented on the Spaniard’s withdrawal from the prestigious competitions in Barcelona. For instance, the US Open champion – 2003, former world No. 1 American tennis player stated that in this case, Carlos did the right thing by being cautious.

“Obviously, Carlos does not want to miss competitions on clay, especially in his home country. I think the positive aspect is that it’s a hand problem, not some more serious structural issue. That would be more concerning. At least now, Carlos can keep his legs in shape. He can still do exercises, and it’s better to be cautious now than to regret it later. Carlos has entered that stage of his career where Grand Slam tournaments become the main focus, and then you set your priorities in reverse order. I hope he does just that,” said Roddick on the Tennis Channel.

Then, Alcaraz went to the second clay “Masters” of the season, namely in Madrid. Ahead of the tournament, many fans of the athlete noticed that their idol had moved his first training session in the Spanish capital to Monday. Marca reported that Carlos made such a decision not to rush his return after a forearm injury. And after a crushing victory over Alexander Shevchenko in the second round in Madrid, the two-time champion of this “thousand” discussed whether problems with his right hand hinder his performance at competitions.

“Does the injury bother me? Not at all, but I think about it. It won’t leave my mind. Starting this week, I achieve good results in training, I can hit stronger, but I do not feel 100% comfortable playing on the right. However, I am glad that I can perform at this level. I believe I can be competitive,” said the tennis player, quoted by the ATP press service.

In the end, at one of his favorite tournaments, the world’s third racket reached the quarterfinals, where he unexpectedly lost to Russian Andrey Rublev. After the defeat by the Olympic champion of Tokyo in mixed doubles, he admitted that the day before the start of the “thousand” in Madrid, he did not know if he could play in the competitions at all. Alcaraz himself evaluated the past week as positive. Carlos also expressed his plans for the form he intends to approach the “Masters” in Rome.

“I plan to use additional protection during the preparation for the next matches. We’ll see in these weeks how my muscles behave. In Rome, I will continue to play with protection as a precaution. I am very looking forward to the tournament with Djokovic. The idea is to go to Rome with the best feelings and win,” said Alcaraz at the post-match press conference.

However, the next day, namely May 3, the 20-year-old native of El Palmar made an important announcement. The Spaniard announced that he had withdrawn from the “thousand” in the Italian capital.

“I felt discomfort in my hand. Today I underwent tests and found swelling in the muscles – a consequence of the last injury. Unfortunately, I will not be able to play in Rome. I need rest to recover and play at 100% without pain,” Alcaraz stated in his social networks. Competitions at the Foro Italico courts have never been favorites for Carlos. In 2022, he decided not to participate in the tournament due to the not-best condition of his legs and ankle, and last season he unexpectedly lost to Hungarian Fabian Marozsan in the third round.

Even in early April, Alcaraz still had theoretical chances to regain the ATP ranking leader position before the start of Roland Garros. For this, the young Spanish talent needed to defend titles at the “500” in Barcelona, the “Masters” in Madrid, and also shine at a similar competition in Rome. After a series of injuries and withdrawals from tournaments, Carlos’s main task at the moment is to approach the clay major in optimal physical condition. The tennis community wants to see Alcaraz fight honorably, perform regularly successfully, and win new titles.

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