- Carlos Alcaraz changed his playing style ahead of the Australian Open
- He won his first round match against Richard Gasquet on Tuesday
- He is chasing his third Grand Slam
Carlos Alcaraz changed his playing style ahead of the Australian Open in a move aimed at winning a second Grand Slam.
Alcaraz is making his season debut in Melbourne without participating in any tournaments before the main event.
He chose this approach to allow his body rest and rejuvenate ahead of the 2024 season which he is getting ready to rise again as world No. 1.
Staying away from competitive tennis towards the end of 2023 is a strategy he is hoping will work in winning more Grand Slams this season.
Carlos Alcaraz changed His Playing Style
The 20-year-old Spaniard lowered the velocity of his shots in the last competitive matches of 2023. He underwent a preseason focused on maintaining consistency without sacrificing ball speed.
During the last Paris-Bercy editon where he lost in the second round to Russia’s Roman Safiullin, the average speed of his forehand was 120 kilometers per hour.
His backhand was at 110 km/h. However, in his debut in Turin, these figures showed a decrease: forehand at 117 and backhand at 106.
In the TMS Shanghai match against Grigor Dimitrov, the average speed of his backhand further dropped to 101 kilometers per hour.
Following a vacation in California, Alcaraz commenced his training on December 8 and continued without a break during the Christmas period.
The initial week of his preparation was exclusively dedicated to the physical aspect, under the guidance of his trainer Alberto Lledo. He returned to the court on December 15 ready to wield a racket.
He had three coaches taking him through the training, one of them being Antonio Martinez Cascales.
Cascales together with Juan Carlos Ferrero and Samuel Lopez trained Alcaraz daily for 75 minutes in December.
What is in Alcaraz’s New Playing Style?
His speed is at an optimal level according to Cascales. He trained hard on tactics and percentages for him to stay on top of the rankings.
“We have worked a lot on the serve and the rest. Alcaraz is not lacking in speed: at the Mutua Madrid Open he served at 227 kilometers per hour. It’s more a matter of percentage and tactics,” the coach said.
He added: “The open serves to the forehand should be shorter because it opens up the court more. We help ourselves with marks and we look at the second bounce. We also try to improve the percentage without losing speed. It was not a question of hitting five but many in a row”.
Carlos Alcaraz at Australian Open
The Spaniard is looking at winning his first hard-court Grand Slam and maybe, have another opportunity to play with Novak Djokovic.
He won his second major at Wimbledon 2023 in a thrilling final against Djokovic weeks after losing to him in French Open semifinals.
Alcaraz is now banking on his changed playing style to continue with his legacy. His coaching relied on his performance at the ATP Finals in Turin.
His serves were the best among the eight participants in Turin and the focus is for him to consistently deliver powerful serves in Melbourne. It accounts for a part of his changed playing style.
Consequently, his baseline strategy has also changed. He has worked on been given to enhancing the effectiveness of the sliced backhand which is valuable on grass surface.
His second coach Lopez said that they have adhered to Ferrero’s recommendation to pay special attention to is serves, speed and other tactics involved.
Alcaraz says that he realized the only way for him to win is through learning how to correct his mistakes and gear up to become a star tennis player.
“Everyone can improve both on and off the court and I’m not perfect. There were specific things to improve. I’m 20 years old and I’m absent-minded, punctuality, order,” he said.
He won his first round match against Richard Gasquet on Tuesday.