Carlos Alcaraz has been told that his early loss at the Rome Masters was the best thing that could have happened for his French Open chances. The Spaniard and Novak Djokovic have emerged as early favourites at Roland Garros in Rafael Nadal’s absence. And Alex Corretja believes that Alcaraz is ready for the pressure of being the top seed after his Italian Open exit.
Alcaraz has been the standout player of the European clay season so far, picking up back-to-back titles and suffering just one defeat. But his loss at the Italian Open sent shockwaves, as he crashed out to qualifier and world No 135 Fabian Marozsan.
It raised some questions over the world No 1’s chances in Paris but fellow Spaniard Corretja claimed that the surprise early exit was a blessing in disguise for Alcaraz. “For me, it was the best thing it could happen to him,” the former world No 2 told Eurosport.
“Now, he had time off, he rested and he is going to be much fresher for Roland Garros. He has spent a few days relaxing and he’s practising again to be ready for the tournament.”
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A two-time finalist at the French Open, Corretja rubbished the idea that Alcaraz’s loss could cause him to struggle in Paris. He continued: “So there is no alarm, there are no worries, it is the opposite. It puts him in the situation of being careful because everybody plays very well and you can be surprised from anyone in the tournament.
“So I think it’s a good notice for him to understand that he needs to continue doing his things, but knowing that everybody plays well.” The retired pro also thought it would give the world No 1 some perspective, adding: “I think he already knew that, but this loss puts him in the spot of ‘OK, I cannot let myself relax because everybody plays unbelievable tennis.’”
Corretja also backed Alcaraz to perform with the pressure of being the top seed. After he was forced to miss the Australian Open, Roland Garros marks the first Grand Slam where the 20-year-old is the top-ranked man in the draw.
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“He had the experience from last year at Roland Garros, where it was pretty much the first time that he was in the big spot to see if he can do well. And he’s going to deal with the situation in a totally different way,” Corretja explained.
“He is going to be more relaxed from the very first round. Even if he needs to win and to suffer, he will be ready for that. He knows already that a lot of attention is going to be on his shoulders because, especially for the Spanish press, there is no Rafa there. But I think he is totally ready. He has been dealing with the situation extremely well. And I think he is absolutely ready to do well at Roland Garros.”
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