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Carlos Alcaraz makes changes in his game to be better: How does the Spanish tennis player play now?

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Carlos Alcaraz will make his debut this season at the Australian Open without having played in any tournament before this.

Three of the top four players in the ranking have opted for the same formula. The only one who made his official debut was Novak Djokovic at the United Cup, Jannik Sinner took part in the Kooyong Classic exhibition the week before the first major and Daniil Medvedev took part in the Abu Dhabi World Tennis League in December.

In the case of Alcaraz he played five friendlies. With Tommy Paul on November 29 in Mexico; a second with Djokovic in Riyadh on December 27; a day later against Roberto Bautista in Murcia and already in Melbourne with Alex De Minaur and Casper Ruud.

Alcaraz, who lowered the power of his shots in the final part of 2023, has had a preseason working under a premise “consistency without losing ball speed”.

In the last edition of Paris-Bercy, in the match he lost in the second round to Russia’s Roman Safiullin, the average of his forehand was 120 kilometers per hour and that of his backhand 110. In his debut in Turin those records went down: forehand 117 and backhand 106.

In the TMS Shanghai match against Grigor Dimitrov, the average backhand speed dropped to 101 kilometers per hour. The tennis player, after a vacation in California, started his preparation on December 8 and did not stop for Christmas.

After a first week dedicated exclusively to the physical aspect, with the supervision of his trainer Alberto Lledo, it was on December 15 when he stepped on the court again to wield a racket.

“We trained for about an hour and a quarter,” recalls Antonio Martinez Cascales, one of the three coaches who supervised his training, along with Juan Carlos Ferrero, out of Australia due to a knee arthroscopy, and Samuel Lopez, present in the capital of Victoria.

“We have worked a lot on the serve and the rest,” he says. 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 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”.

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The best at the Masters

The number two player’s team has taken as a reference the ATP Finals in Turin where he was the best of the eight participants when serving. In the rest of the tournament, special emphasis has been placed on “hitting a lot of good serves in a row and being more consistent”.

Within his baseline game he has reaffirmed the weapon of the sliced backhand, which is so useful on surfaces such as the grass at Wimbledon.

Samuel Lopez reaffirms that “we have worked in the line that Juan Carlos wanted. Both in the serve and the rest, in the first shots, in going forward…”.

The two-time major champion is aware that he must polish himself both on and off the court: “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…”.

The new version of Alcaraz will have the first test this Tuesday with Richard Gasquet in the major of the Antipodes. The veteran French tennis player brings back good memories to the young player from El Palmar. The only precedent between the two was in the final of Umag, in 2021. It meant the first of his 12 titles.

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