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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Eleanor Crooks

Carlos Alcaraz ‘happy with progress’ of injury recovery ahead of French Open

PA Archive

Carlos Alcaraz admits he is undercooked heading into the French Open but believes he can find his best form on the Parisian clay.

The Spaniard has struggled with a forearm injury over the past couple of months, missing the big clay-court events in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

He did play the Madrid Open in front of his home fans but admitted after losing to Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals that he was still experiencing pain and opted to sit out the Italian Open.

Alcaraz is confident he will be fully fit for Roland Garros, which starts on Sunday, telling the PA news agency: “Things are going well lately, I’m really happy with all the progress.

“It was difficult for me because at the beginning the doctors told me it’s not going to be really serious, it’s just going to take a few days, from five to seven, and it wasn’t that time.

“I was dealing with the pain, with how to focus my practices to the injury. Playing the Mutua Madrid Open not at my 100 per cent was difficult as well but I’m really happy that I had the chance to play.

“Missing Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, tournaments that are really beautiful for me, was tough but things are going very, very good lately and that’s all that matters. I think I’ll be at my 100 per cent.”

It has been a frustrating time for the 21-year-old, who seemed to be hitting his stride again after winning his first title since last summer’s Wimbledon at Indian Wells in March.

“I don’t have hours on the court and I think on clay you need to be a lot of hours on the court just to get the rhythm, to get how to move,” he said.

“Tennis players when they are a lot of time off the court with no competition, you lose the competitive part a little bit and you need to play matches, play tournaments to get the rhythm for the big tournaments.

“Missing the three tournaments on clay, really important ones, and not playing points, sets or matches before, it’s going to be difficult, but I have time to practise with the top players, I have time to play sets and practice matches, and I think it’ll be really helpful for me just to be ready for Roland Garros.”

Despite his difficult build-up, Alcaraz is favourite to win his maiden French Open title, reflecting an unusually turbulent time at the top of the men’s game.

Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner is also struggling with a hip problem while Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal both go into the tournament short on wins.

Missing Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, tournaments that are really beautiful for me, was tough but things are going very, very good lately and that's all that matters

Alcaraz, though, would not be surprised to see the cream rise to the top again in Paris.

“I think it’s really open right now,” he said. “A lot of players are playing really good tennis lately. Let’s see, but it’s Roland Garros, it’s a grand slam.

“Jannik is coming back from an injury, myself as well. Djokovic is not playing his best tennis but I’m pretty sure, once we step on the court at Roland Garros, it’s going to seem that we didn’t get injured.”

Djokovic, who turned 37 on Wednesday, had one of his most dominant seasons in 2023, missing out on a calendar Grand Slam only because of a final defeat by Alcaraz at Wimbledon, but this season he has suffered a series of shock defeats and is yet to make a final at any level.

“Probably he’s not playing his best tennis, he’s not winning tournaments, but he’s able to play Roland Garros and win it,” said Alcaraz.

“Novak has that talent, not winning tournaments for a year and then the big moments, the big tournaments, he’s able to win and to show his best tennis, and everybody thinks, ‘How is that possible’? That’s the Novak Djokovic spirit and that’s why he’s one of the best in history.”

Alcaraz would also not be shocked to see Nadal, who is expected to retire at some point this season, produce a finale to savour at the tournament that has defined his career.

“Like Novak, probably Rafa is not playing his best tennis, he’s not feeling well physically, but, at Roland Garros, I think he has chances to play great tennis and do a great result,” said Alcaraz.

“He has shown over the years that he’s able to do it.”

Alcaraz has been credited with attracting a new generation of fans to tennis and, as one of the cover stars of the new video game TopSpin 2K25, he is hoping to reach an even bigger audience.

“I know that a lot of people who never watched tennis before started to watch tennis because of the video games,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing, I think it’s really important to the tennis world.”

:: Fans can visit, and follow TopSpin 2K on TikTok, Instagram, X, YouTube, and Facebook for the latest TopSpin 2K25 news.

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