Carlos Alcaraz loves New York and New York loves him. “When I’m on the court, I always try to switch things up, you know? Give ‘em a show, make sure they’re having a blast watching me play. And here in the United States, they absolutely love that kind of stuff. Just having a good time and getting to see a few new things, you know? I’ve had some amazing moments with the crowd here, and I feel like we’ve got this awesome connection going. I genuinely have fun with them, and I think they enjoy watching me play too,” said the Spanish ace after winning his first round match against Dominik Koepfer at the 2023 US Open Tennis Championships.
The world’s top player will compete in the second round against South African Lloyd Harris, wearing the same brand of tennis shoes (he uses the English word ‘sneakers’ even when he is speaking in Spanish) that John McEnroe once wore. He expresses himself well in English sprinkled with American slang and filler words such as ‘like’ and ‘you know.’ It is easy to see how he has been influenced by the tennis and NBA videos that he watches almost daily. His link to America grows stronger by the day: he has developed a close bond with pro basketball player Jimmy Butler, and Alcaraz particularly enjoys spending evenings out on the town in New York.
“It feels really good to be back here at Arthur Ashe Stadium, you know? It’s just such a great venue for me and for tennis in general. The night matches at the US Open? They’re our sport at its best! I’m really hoping to feel that same energy and love that I experienced last time.” Alcaraz is the current champion at this event and now wears vibrant clothing designed for him by Nike, the brand that supplies all his gear. It’s not just him though. His brothers and several younger relatives also sport caps, high socks and baggy clothing adorned with Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls logos.
“So, I recently got into watching the NBA, and let me tell you, I’ve been devouring all the videos! I mean, who doesn’t know about Michael and the amazing things he did for the game? It’s just mind-blowing! Like, I’m a huge fan of his and his clothing line too,” said Alcaraz, pointing to the NBA logo with the silhouette of Jordan flying through the air. “I’m not gonna say if he’s the GOAT or not, but there’s no doubt that he’s definitely up there!” The young Spaniard has been meticulously groomed for the US market by IMG, the global sports and talent agency that has represented him since 2012.
The language clause
One of the clauses in Nike’s contract with Alcaraz, signed in 2019 and extending until 2025, requires him to be fluent in English. His improvement in the language is evident, with significant progress made in just one year. Every word he says and every step he takes are carefully monitored by his agent, Albert Molina, who prioritizes both quality and quantity when identifying commercial relationships for his client. As part of this, priority is given to media interviews geared toward the English-speaking markets.
In between his official commitments at the US Open, a few publications like Men’s Health, Vogue and The Wall Street Journal have had the opportunity to interview him. And he doesn’t miss a chance to experience the neon lights of Times Square and the busy New York night life. At the US Open, he’s Carlitos, the American. In the absence of American stars (no US men’s tennis player has won here since Andy Roddick in 2003), he has taken the tournament by storm. Tennis greats like Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal aren’t here either. The 2023 US Open is all about the 20-year-old kid from Murcia, Spain.
“What Alcaraz has done in the last year is unbelievable, said John McEnroe. “He’s put himself in a position where you talk about him in the same way as Novak and Rafa [Nadal] in a way which is incredible. The best player I’ve ever seen at his age. It’s incredible how good he is already.” Andy Roddick agrees – “He really has no weaknesses.” Alcaraz also has a fan in another American tennis great – Andre Agassi. “Winning a Grand Slam event takes something special. It’s a pleasure to watch him.”
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