‘Vamos!’ is a bell whistle to let you know that Carlos Alcaraz has won a point. In an action mirroring his idol, the Spanish teenager screams it at the top of his lungs after he wins a point, something you should really get used to if you’re going to start watching him play.
It’s no secret that Spanish tennis has flourished in recent years, thanks in no small part to Rafael Nadal and his twenty grand slams. But Nadal did much more than set the tennis pace for years, he implemented a rare animalistic energy in the often seen as timid sport. His roars after a point, collapsing to the ground after winning a championship, and ferocious point-to-point winning mentality, helped bring tennis to a new exciting level both on and off the court.
Sadly, Nadal cannot continue on forever and his 2021 season has shown this, missing out on Wimbledon and the US Open and even faltering to the timeless Djokovic in his favoured Rolland-Garros. With Federer looking like he’ll hang up his racket soon and Murray not returning to his best after a lengthy period on the side-lines, Djokovic is the only one of the ‘big four’ to still be at the top of his game.
Out with the old and in with the new. You may wistfully look back on the prime of these four players and let out a sigh at a modern tennis game, that is becoming increasingly reliant on big servers, quick points and a hard-court focused season.
Once the dust has settled from this initial disappointment, one name shines brightest for the future of men’s tennis, Carlos Alcaraz. The Spaniard is still only 18 years old, but plays with the level and experience of someone whose been at the top level for decades. In 2021, he has burst on to the scene, garnering the admiration of fans and pundits alike.
Alcaraz plays an aggressive bassline game that relies on long-drawn out points, where on his serve he aims to open up the court for cross court winners, using an accurate yet powerful forehand and a steady, if not fully developed backhand. It’s on clay where Alcaraz shines though, much to the same tune of his countryman Nadal. On the slower, higher bouncing surface, he is able to construct point with ease, often outlasting the stamina of his opponent, finding tight angles to work a winner on. This methodical style has aided him in becoming the youngest player to win an ATP title since 2008, where he weaved through a series of seasoned veterans of the game to win the Croatia Open.
Perhaps his crowning achievement will be his US Open run, which befitted a talent of his calibre. Under the New York lights the teenager showed his fortitude to beat world number three, Stefanos Tsitsipas, in the third round of the competition, which was capped by the adoring fans screaming ‘Vamos!’ to his tune by the end. Add to this a route to victory in the shiny new ATP Next Gen finals and it’s hard to see how the young Spaniard could have had a better breakthrough season.
The next generation of men’s professional tennis is crying out for new faces. The ATP still clings on to the glory years of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray and why not? It was a truly defining era for men’s tennis, which needs no rose-tinted spectacles to be remembered. It is easy to see a follow up star in Alcaraz, who can fill the void being left by these stars. A passionate, young, driven tennis player who, with the right training can leave a mark equal to that of the big four, leaving his trademark ‘Vamos!’ on the lips of a sport struggling to find something to say.