Carlos Alcaraz
Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz poses with the trophy a day after winning the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris on June 10, 2024. Alcaraz defeated Alexander Zverev 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 on June 9 to become the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all three surfaces. Image Credit: AFP

Carlos Alcaraz is the new king of tennis. The French Open was his coronation. The maiden Paris title was his third grand slam, which put him on the path to greatness.

“I want to be one of the best tennis players in the world,” Alcaraz said after the five-set win over Alexander Zverev in four hours and 19 minutes. He has now succeeded on every surface, having won on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows for the US Open in 2022, the grass of Wimbledon in 2023 and now the red clay of Roland Garros for the French Open.

At 21, he is the youngest man to win grand slam titles on all three surfaces — a record held by Rafael Nadal at 22. The surface slam is a feat achieved only by six others —Nadal, Mats Wilander (he didn’t win Wimbledon, but won the Australian Open on grass), Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Best all-court player since Djokovic

The mastery of all three surfaces makes Alcaraz the most rounded player since Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who lorded over tennis for two decades. It also answers the question: After Djokovic, who?

That question has been around for a while. It started around the time Federer was fading into retirement. Andy Murray still plays the circuit with a metal hip, and Nadal seems set to follow Federer into the sunset. But Djokovic remains at the top of the game; he was laid low by an injury at the French Open and underwent knee surgery.

The Serbian can’t go on, although he’s shown that he’s got the game and the fitness to joust with the new generation of talents. Three grand slam wins—the Australian Open, French Open and US Open — in 2023 are enough proof. Alcaraz’s Wimbledon win ruined what could have been a grand slam, which would have put Djokovic in the elite band that includes Rod Laver, Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court, and Steffi Graf.


The 2023 Wimbledon title anointed Alcaraz as Djokovic’s successor, but the Spaniard’s form wilted in the following months. Djokovic’s return to the pedestal put all talk of a new tennis king to rest. Yet Alacaraz provided glimpses of his sublime talent, which prompted tennis pundits to name him the new Nadal.

The youngster from El Palmar, Spain, says he’s no new Nadal, and he’s Alcaraz the first. He hasn’t had a good run this year, struggling with form and injuries. Even his run-up to the French Open was marred by a forearm injury, which forced the Spaniard to pull out of three of the four claycourt tournaments.

He arrived in Paris with little practice or preparation yet dropped only a set en route to the last four. Alcaraz was far from his best in the semifinal against Jannik Sinner, another rising star. But the Spaniard hung in there, riding out the brilliance of his rival before seizing the opportunities. It was a win that epitomised his fighting qualities and the ability to carve out victories even without playing his best. Even in the final against Zverev, beset by cramps Alcaraz turned around a 2-1 deficit to win in five sets.

The rise of Jannik Sinner

Sinner too had served notice of his burgeoning skills in 2023, defeating Djokovic in two of their four meetings. The Italian beat Djokovic in the 2024 Australian Open before winning a five-set thriller against Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Sinner’s maiden grand slam title cast him as the new rising star. And he lived up to it. A series of consistent performances helped him displace the Serbian as the new World Number One. But Alcaraz’s French Open win left no doubt about the new dominant player in the circuit.

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Alcaraz may only be World Number Two, but he has the world at his feet. The surface slam could be followed by a grand slam, a feat last achieved by Graf in 1988. That may not be easy as Sinner, 22, will follow him around the world. Just like Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, who deprived Bjorn Borg of a grand slam in the eighties.

Before Alcaraz and Sinner, there was Dominic Thiem and Medvedev, who won grand slams but never threatened Djokovic’s dominance. With Alcaraz, it’s different. With a game honed on Spanish claycourts, he has succeeded on all surfaces. Three majors on three surfaces —that’s the mark of a champion.

Alcaraz is the new king of tennis. All hail King Carlos.