“What do you play that I put it in?” Jaime, the little brother of the Alcaraz Garfia, throws over and over again into the basket located next to the entrance portico of the house where the family has stayed for the last month. The boy challenges while his brother Carlos, the third of the four children, is receiving one by one and with a smile from ear to ear the special envoys who have accompanied him these days in Wimbledon, where the Murcian has once again done history. The tennis player (El Palmar, Murcia; 20 years old) brought down an empire the day before, that of Novak Djokovic, and on his face you can see the logical decompression of someone who has overexerted himself. He laughs easily, the champion, he is happy, but at the same time he has a sleepy face and a slight exhaustion is reflected in his maneuvers. It is not for less.
There have been 12 grueling matches in the four weeks that he has been in London, marking a historic turn in his sport. He had not lost the Serbian in the Cathedral since 2013, but in the end he arrived, Carlitos, the number one who rises like foam, and everything changed. Tennis is witnessing the definitive birth of a new era with him at the forefront, levitating and projecting himself, so much and in such a short time that not a few specialists guess a design never seen before: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, a three in one. Nole testifies – “I had never seen a player like him”, explained the Balkan the night before, after falling in the final -, while the young king of the circuit, with two greats already in his backpack and a world ahead, suggests the formula . It works for him, although he omits the obvious, the intangible: “Work, work and work.” His legs are perfectly defined, he high-fives and his Murcian accent multiplies when he interacts with hers.
Ask. Leo Messi slept with the World Cup when he won the World Cup in Qatar. Has he given you to do the same?
Answer. I was there before [dice senalando a una estancia anexa]but now I don’t know where it is. The truth is that I haven’t slept with the trophy, but I don’t rule out doing it one of these days… [risas].
Q. How does one sleep being a Wimbledon champion?
R. I have slept very, very well. Yesterday I went to bed very calm, compared to the night before the final… It was a nervous and atypical night, and compared to this one it was like, poof!, much calmer already. I am much more relaxed.
Q. And what does a number one dream of after achieving what you have achieved?
R. Honestly, I don’t remember what I dreamed today, but I usually do, yes. I am one of those who falls into a deep sleep and usually dreams.
Q. Have you already assimilated that you have won Wimbledon and that you have come this far, or are you starting to normalize all this?
R. No, no, I’m still processing it… I still don’t believe it, honestly.
At this moment, the ATP communication manager approaches the cup that accredits his feat at the All England Tennis Club, the green sanctuary of the racket. He is also sporadically seen around the room by his agent, Albert Molina, the man who follows each and every one of his steps around the world. “Carlitos, more roses have arrived”, he transmits to her, while his father, also Carlos, enthusiastically observes the gigantic bouquet of white flowers and calculates the weight of the vase. Near the kitchen, the older brother, Alvaro, explains that Djokovic’s movements and tennis are overwhelming: “He pushes you backwards all the time, he always puts them where he wants, he opens you up, cuts… It’s wild.” The protagonist, meanwhile, receives the trophy in his arms and hugs it as if he were afraid that someone might snatch it from him. “Look, here it is, here I have it!” he says to the interlocutor between laughs.
Q. We were talking about you and the extraordinary.
R. No, the truth is that I don’t believe it, and I still tell my family: that I am a Wimbledon champion! And that’s big words. It was a dream and it is crazy to have been able to fulfill it. I always dreamed of winning this tournament because it’s different and it makes you feel different. You see the green, how perfect the grass is and how beautiful the club is, and it wins you over quickly.
Q. He counted three years ago that he did not feel chosen; later, when he won the US Open, he denied it again. However, I don’t believe him. Convince me please.
R. I’m going to be honest, I don’t consider myself a chosen one. This is achieved simply by working, there are no secrets. In this world there are no secrets, but everything is achieved through perseverance, effort and day to day. The details make the difference. Many great athletes or legends from all walks of life usually say it: the details are what make the difference, and in the end, chasing your dream, being clear that you are going to achieve it and trusting that you are going to achieve it is what makes a difference and what makes you reach the goals you set for yourself. I am not a chosen one, but I have simply followed my dream and I have believed in myself at all times. Obviously, behind everything I am there is a lot, a lot of work.
Q. So, do you consider yourself a worker beyond the talent you have?
R. Yes, I consider myself a hard worker, although that has changed as the years have gone by. I must be honest, and at first I wasn’t so honest [risas]. In the end, when you are little, it is always difficult for you to do some things that you do not like, but I have been learning that the days that are difficult, the days that you do not feel like it, those that you do not feel like going to train or in which you lack motivation, count double. So you have to get out of bed and push yourself to do it. I have learned to do it and I think that is what is making the difference and what has led me to be where I am today. There are no gifts in this.
Q. In a very short time he has gone from being a promise, a boy with a normal daily life, to being one of the most recognizable faces of a global sport like tennis. How do you keep all of this from getting too big for you?
R. I think the explanation is that, in the end, we are very clear about our objective. Little by little we are fulfilling our dream: to be number one, to be a Grand Slam champion, to win Wimbledon… and I want to win Roland Garros and Australia too, but the very long-term goal is to be considered one of the best in history, as great legends like Djokovic, Rafa [Nadal] or Federer. I have always said it, it may be that this objective is very big, too ambitious or that they think I am arrogant, but in the end in this life you have to think and dream big, and you have to go for it. All this is not great for me because I know and am very clear about what I want to achieve in the future, so I must continue on this path.
Q. In an exceptional case like yours, are you aware of how good it is? Are you fully aware of the potential you hold and how far you can go?
R. You have to see reality and be honest. I do know what a good player I am, and I don’t think that’s arrogance, but self-confidence. I know how difficult it is for rivals to beat me and to play at a great level for so long against me to be able to beat me, and I think that’s a virtue I have. It’s about trusting yourself. I know I’m a good player [risas].
Q. After winning in New York, in September of last year, he said that he had not done things quite right, that he had gotten a little confused. Do you think the same thing can happen after this hit or has it been corrected in that sense?
R. I have the lesson more than learned. It’s like the match against Djokovic at Roland Garros and yesterday; I learn from mistakes. Every time something happens to me that shouldn’t have happened to me, I learn to be prepared for the next time it happens and so that it doesn’t happen again. I don’t think the US Open thing will happen to me again because that lesson is already learned in my head.
Q. Right now, after a rush as big as yesterday and the adrenaline processed over the last few weeks, what do you feel like doing the most?
R. Honestly, going home and being there as a family, being with them again and eating with them. I miss. I miss those routines of being in my town and with my friends, being at home; without doing much, huh? Just enjoy having that feeling that you are calm with them and that we have those laughs.
Q. His popularity rating has skyrocketed; in fact, he is the one who has grown the most among all the tennis players on the circuit. They sue you everywhere. Don’t you miss normality? How is fame?
R. It has its good points and some not so good points. For certain aspects I miss being able to do certain things. I miss doing some things that a normal 20-year-old does, but that doesn’t last long. Everyone wants to live his dream and I am lucky to be living it and achieving it, to surround myself with great legends of Spanish sports and sports in general, from all fields. Being able to chat with them… It was something he couldn’t imagine, somehow. When they tell you that they admire you, you don’t believe it, so he has his good things and his not so good things.
Q. These days they have been watching him play in central London from Brad Pitt to Shakira, going through other types of personalities. When he is there and sees them, what does he think?
R. Which is a bestiality, really. You see great artists, actors and athletes who go to watch your matches and support you, writing to you, telling you that they are proud of you… And it’s really crazy.
Q. Toni Nadal writes that, beyond Djokovic, who is 36 years old, he does not see someone who is truly capable of standing up to him right now. What does he think?
R. It is very difficult to play at a very high level throughout the year and all the tournaments, so I think there are a lot of players who are there. I have the head to head [cara a cara] against with Felix [Auger-Aliassime] and against some other player, and that I have difficulties because in the end each rival is different and some can do more damage than others. Every time I play against Sinner, for example, he increases his level to one hundred percent, and I do the same; he has beaten me and I have beaten him in great battles Holger [Rune] It’s also there, so there are many who can beat me and play my part. That is tennis.
Q. And Djokovic? Do you think that he, at his age, will be able to keep up with him and face the historical ordeal that he has thrown at him?
R. I know that now everyone will want to beat me and that’s nice, but at the same time I keep my eyes on Novak. I would love to play many more times against him [hasta ahora han sido tres, con un 2-1 favorable al espanol], because it is a tremendous challenge and I still consider that he is the best. I have always admired him, I have seen countless videos of his to learn. It’s not enough to win a game to change that, so I have to do it more times.
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Source: EL PAIS