Juan Carlos Ferrero likens Carlos Alcaraz to Dragon Ball Z character Goku, says constant comparisons with Rafael Nadal are tough for Alcaraz to handle

Carlos Alcaraz in action at the Next Gen ATP Finals
Carlos Alcaraz in action at the Next Gen ATP Finals

In a recent interview with the ATP, former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero likened Carlos Alcaraz to famous Dragon Ball Z character Goku. Ferrero, who serves as Alcaraz's coach, also opined that the Spaniard has done well to handle the pressure that comes with being compared to Rafael Nadal.

Alcaraz, 18, has enjoyed a breakout season this year, winning his maiden ATP title at Umag and reaching the quarterfinals of the US Open. The Spanish teenager, who has risen to No. 32 in the rankings, also qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals, where he will take on Sebastian Korda in the final.

In a conversation with ATP's website, Ferrero was asked if his ward had exceeded expectations this year. Ferrero responded in the affirmative and revealed that one of the goals Alcaraz had set was to break into the top 50 by the end of the year.

According to Ferrero, Alcaraz's victories over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, and Jannik Sinner attest to his development.

"Yes, one of the expectations we had was to be ranked around No. 50. In terms of that number, he has exceeded expectations," Ferrero said.
"We could also mention that he has played against top players and been able to compete on their level – and even beat them, as was the case with [Stefanos] Tsitsipas and [Matteo] Berrettini, even [Jannik] Sinner, who is another of the most promising young players," added Alcaraz's coach.

Ferrero then went on to liken his ward to Dragon Ball Z character Goku, asserting that the teenager would continue to climb the ranking charts.

"Carlos will continue to climb," Ferrero added. "Right now, he’s a bit like Son Goku [from Dragonball Z], when he started to transform and then lost power. It's a little joke I have with him."

Considering Carlos Alcaraz hails from Spain, enjoys playing on clay and imparts a high amount of topspin on his shots, many have labeled him the next Rafael Nadal.

Rafael Nadal after beating Carlos Alcaraz at the Madrid Open
Rafael Nadal after beating Carlos Alcaraz at the Madrid Open

Such comparisons come with tremendous expectations, making life tough for younger players, but Juan Carlos Ferrero believes Alcaraz has dealt with the pressure well.

"He absorbs it very well, without added pressure," Ferrero said. "Since everyone has started saying that he is the new player who could go right to the top, he has tried to stay in a small bubble. Above all, to try and stay on his own path. Carrying the burden of comparisons with a player like Rafa [Nadal] is difficult for such a young boy."

The 41-year-old believes Alcaraz is "mentally strong" but, in the same breath, added that the Spaniard still has a lot to learn, especially after breaking down in tears after his Paris Masters defeat to Hugo Gaston.

Ferrero pointed out how Alcaraz prefers to do things "his own way," which he feels helps the teenager cope with the pressure.

"He is very mentally strong but he still has a lot to learn – we saw it last week," Alcaraz's coach said. "There are things that he is unable to control. The fact that they compare him with Rafa is difficult but we have always handled it well. Him best of all. He wants to do things his own way and so far, he really is coping very well. We haven't noticed more or less pressure because of this."

Rafael Nadal's career is almost unrepeatable, Carlos Alcaraz has to have his own career: Juan Carlos Ferrero

Juan Carlos Ferrero, on his part, believes comparisons with Rafael Nadal indicate that Carlos Alcaraz is on the right path. However, Ferrero feels the Spaniard must carve out his own career trajectory as attempting to emulate Nadal is next to impossible.

"So they compare him with Rafa? Great, that means that people think he has a lot of potential," Ferrero said. "But he has to be very clear, and other people do too, that he has to stay on his own path. I won't say that Rafa's career is unrepeatable, but almost. Carlos has to have his own career and keep looking forward."

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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