In the game of tennis, the two characteristics that have been surpassed to an ever-increasing extent throughout history have been power and speed of impact. I grew up as a player and, later, as a coach, admiring the great tennis players of yesteryear and being surprised by how quickly they hit the ball. Today, anyone who is curious to watch John McEnroe, Björn Borg, Ivan Lendl or Jimmy Connors on YouTube will be surprised at how slow their executions are in relation to what tennis has become today. It is the patina of time that, far from detracting from the legendary players, is imposing a natural evolution.
Although the first generations of tennis players who have followed Roger Federer, Rafael and Novak Djokovic have not managed to surpass the great trio in speed or intensity, I think I can say after watching the quarterfinal match between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner that these two players are inaugurating a new change that will be the line that tennis players who want to be at the top of the classification must follow.
That match (I am writing the day before the Spaniard’s match against Frances Tiafoe) that we were lucky enough to witness at dawn on Thursday is one of those duels that will remain in our memory for a while. The intensity and speed in the exchanges are rarely seen. Either of the two tennis players could have won the match, but the balance tipped in favor of the Murcian tennis player, who even saved a match point, due to the great fighting spirit that characterizes him.
Throughout the history of sport, it has happened that the new generations take as an example and inspiration the most outstanding and most recent figures, and it is they who they try to emulate and, if possible, surpass. And one of the successes that good players make is to adjust their style to the correct model; that is, knowing how to see which are the most suitable patterns according to the characteristics that one has.
That is what Rafael and I tried to do from the beginning of his tennis career. Even having Carlos Moyà as my favorite player, also as a close figure, compatriot and friend, from very early on it was clear to me that the game model that my nephew should follow to enhance his natural qualities was a mixture of the game of Thomas Muster and Jimmy Connors.
This is also one of the great virtues that Alcaraz treasures. Despite having openly declared that he is an admirer of Roger Federer, he has been able to see that his line of play should follow the same paths that continue to guide my nephew. Our young tennis player has been showing that same desire for victory, that ability not to give up and to fight until the last ball, that same intensity that has given Rafael so many victories and of which Carlos has taken good note, as he has gone growing up as a tennis player.
And this is one of the added values that we should grant to great athletes: to become role models for the new generations that always end up bearing fruit. Like Martin Landaluce, the young tennis player from Madrid who is also going to play the final of the US Open in the junior category, who has declared himself a great admirer of Rafael and Alcaraz, and who will also be talking very soon.
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Source: EL PAIS