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Tennis-Alcaraz has self-belief to achieve greatness, says coach Ferrero


By Shrivathsa Sridhar

PARIS (Reuters) – Carlos Alcaraz is primed to push for tennis greatness and his self-belief will be an important tool in achieving it, his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero said on Wednesday as the top seed prepares for his French Open semi-final showdown with Novak Djokovic.

Alcaraz, who turned 20 last month, won the U.S. Open title in September to become the youngest man to top the rankings and leapfrogged 22-times Grand Slam champion Djokovic to the summit following the Italian Open.

Djokovic, 36, continues to cast a shadow on the next generation but Alcaraz has emerged as the strongest contender to dethrone him with his fearless approach and the pair clash for the first time this year on Friday.

“I think he’s ready to try to do big things in tennis. I don’t know if it’s going to be this tournament, but of course I think he’s ready,” Ferrero, who has worked with Alcaraz for nearly five years, told reporters.

“He dreams very big about what he can do, so I think it’s one of the most important things that he believes in himself and he believes he can go to the court and win against everybody.”

Roger Federer ended his career last year after capturing 20 Grand Slam titles while Rafa Nadal and Djokovic – who have each won 22 majors – are both in their mid-30s.

Ferrero said Alcaraz, who almost appeared out of nowhere last year, has the game to deliver where others have failed especially on the evidence of his 6-2 6-1 7-6(5) quarter-final humbling of Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday.

“I’m impressed obviously about his level, but I’m with him now for almost five years so let’s say I know the level he’s able to play,” Ferrero said.

“The most impressive things he shows in the most important moments of the tournament… and the most impressive for me is that he is showing his best level against the best.

“The way he’s playing, he’s able to make any shots on the court. If you ask him to go to the net on match point, he’s able to do it. If I ask to return and go to the net, he’s able to do it and make the drop shot.

“Physically he’s 100%. He’s ready for the tournament.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar, editing by Ed Osmond)

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