As he prepares to make his Davis Cup debut, Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) reflects on what the competition means to him and the moments that have brought him this far 

A new era begins for the Spanish Davis Cup team this week. The Carlos Alcaraz era. 

While Rafael Nadal is certainly not finished yet, his absence no doubt shifts the attention in Madrid onto the 18-year-old Alcaraz who is making his debut appearance in this competition. It’s a lot of pressure but Alcaraz is mainly feeling excitement. 

“For me it’s a dream come true”, he said during Spain’s pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday. “This tournament, I’ve watched it since I was a kid. I remember when I came to watch David Ferrer against [Philipp] Kohlschreiber in Valencia. It was really amazing and I remember I thought that one day I would be in his position. I always wished to represent Spain in the Davis Cup.”

If Alcaraz is excited about playing for Spain, then Spain is also excited to see Alcaraz. There’s a palpable belief here that he’s a special talent, whose humility, work ethic and grounded outlook on life combine with his enormous forehand and on-court athleticism to produce a mature and well-rounded player destined for stardom. It’s like he’s been made in a tennis laboratory, but come out with intangible qualities that only champions possess. 

Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)

His results in the latter half of this season - reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open, beating top-10 players Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and winning the Next Gen Finals - have only furthered the hype. There’s no doubt that it’s been a lot for Alcaraz to process, but he’s content with how he’s handled the transition. 

“Throughout the year, I’ve been doing things well, and the results have been good. But even if they had not been good, I would have been satisfied with the work I have done. I am earning the respect on court, little by little I am starting to be known in the circuit and out of it.

"In the end, you get used to people recognising you. It’s been so quick, all in less than a year. But all this doesn’t prevent me from having the will to keep improving, to keep growing as a player and as a person. I know the path that I need to follow to fulfil my dream.” 

A debut Davis Cup appearance for Alcaraz also means a return to Madrid. The Spanish capital is where Alcaraz celebrated his 18th birthday this year and also where he had one of his most important moments, even if he didn’t know it at the time. 

“Of all the experiences, of all the matches that I played throughout the year, the one with Rafa on my 18th birthday helped me the most”, he said.

“I always say that we learn from experience, you need to live the moments, you need to play the matches, to fail, to fall, and from all those difficult moments, from the moments I didn’t know how to deal with, I have learnt. I’ve had the fortune of playing a lot of important tournaments against big players in big stadiums and from all those moments, I have learnt. I’m also working with a psychologist who, to be honest, has been helping me a lot, I think that without her I wouldn’t be here right now.” 

You need to live the moments, you need to play the matches, to fail, to fall, and from all those difficult moments, from the moments I didn’t know how to deal with, I have learnt.

Alcaraz is 12 years younger than any of his Davis Cup teammates this week and 22 years younger than Feliciano Lopez. Having taken his first steps in professional tennis back in the late 90s, Lopez has seen exceptional talents come and go, but Alcaraz stands out.  

“It’s true that I haven’t seen many players like Carlos in the past”, Lopez said. “For an 18-year-old kid it's really impressive what he’s achieved so far. It’s really amazing the way he plays, of course. His attitude on court is really inspiring for us, for the players and people watching him as well. He’s one the players who you want to watch. But if I have to say one thing it will be probably that it’s very rare to see an 18-year-old kid behaving like he does on the court. This is unusual to see.”

“I don’t really have any advice for him. He’s way better than I was at his age, so what can I say to him? He’s showed to everyone that he’s prepared for this challenge. He’s going to have great support from everyone.” 

Spain will begin its Davis Cup title defence against Ecuador on Saturday before a huge tie against the Russian Tennis Federation on Sunday that is likely to determine the Group winners. 

Following Roberto Bautista's late withdrawal from the squad with an abdominal injury, Albert Ramos has come in and Pablo Carreno has been promoted to the No.1 position, an unfamiliar role but one he feels ready to take on. 

Whatever happens, with Alcaraz part of this side for the first time, it promises to be a memorable and significant occasion. 

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