Carlos Alcaraz should relish the prospect of carrying the hopes of Spain in the French Open with Rafael Nadal absent from the Grand Slam believes one fellow countryman.
Eurosport pundit and former Roland Garros finalist Alex Corretja believes that Alcaraz will step up to the added expectations on him after the 14-time champion was forced to pull out.
Alcaraz was already the bookmaker’s favourite for the tournament ahead of Novak Djokovic and his illustrious compatriot.
He would become the seventh Spanish man to win the French Open in the open era and eighth man from the country to claim the clay court Grand Slam in its entire history.
Corretja believes that Alcaraz will draw inspiration and will want to succeed in Nadal’s stead.
“It will definitely have an impact on Alcaraz, for sure,” Corretja told Eurosport.
“All eyes will be on him and on Novak and all the other potential favourites but being Spanish and knowing that Rafa is not going to be there, all the attention is going to be on him on the men’s side.
“Knowing Alcaraz, he will be okay to deal with that, I’m sure.
“He loves that, which is very amazing and very impressive, but he will definitely need to cope with all the attention and everyone asking him about being the favourite and the next Spanish winner, etc.”
Corretja believes that it will take a great effort from the Alcaraz team to keep external pressure from getting to the 20-year-old.
“His whole team need to work with Carlos even more, just taking all the pressure off him.”
Corretja believes that Alcaraz’s defeat in Rome might actually aid his cause in Paris.
While the soon-to-be world No 1 was bidding for the vaunted Madrid and Rome double but his defeat has instead given him more time to prepare for an assault on the French Open.
Corretja also added that the loss in Rome would temper some expectations and enable him to come into the tournament fresh and ready to fire.
“Losing in Rome was the best thing that could have happened to him because he will have lost a bit of expectation and relaxed a little bit,” Corretja added.
“His energy is going to be so high for Roland-Garros.
“When he starts the tournament, he does not need to think any more about this and can focus only on himself.”
Former Roland Garros champion Mats Wilander feels that there is an opportunity for the rest of the field to step in with Nadal unable to take part.
“To the rest of the players: this is your chance because Rafa is not there, so you had better take it,” Wilander said.
The French Open main draw starts on Sunday 28 May 2023.
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