Former World No. 6 Nicolas Lapentti recently compared Carlos Alcaraz’s performance as a teenager to that of Rafael Nadal when he was the same age as his fellow Spaniard.
On an episode of the Craig Shapiro Tennis Podcast, former Ecuadorian player Lapentti spoke about various elements in both players' games. He stated that while the Spaniards were equally great in their defensive skills, Alcaraz was a step ahead when it came to an aggressive game style as well as serving skills and net skills.
“If you can compare Alcaraz to Nadal when they were both 19, Alcaraz is much better in many different things. He serves better than Rafa. From the baseline, he is a bit more aggressive. Rafa was bad with his transition when he was 19 then he started improving a lot and tried to get more aggressive,” he said.
“They move pretty similar. When they have to defend, they are very good - both of them. Then, coming to the net, Alcaraz is much better than where Rafa was at 19. So, in many ways, Alcaraz is better,” he added.
"Is Carlos Alcaraz going to be able to stay 10 years on top?" – Nicolas Lapentti evaluates Rafael Nadal’s long-standing career
In the same podcast, Nicolas Lapentti also mentioned his first encounter with a young and tenacious 17-year-old Rafael Nadal in 2003. While he emerged as the winner in that clash, the 46-year-old recollected that the then-teenager “fought like a bull”.
“Nadal has this thing that he’s just the best at competing. Every single point, every single week for the past 20 years. It’s 20 years. I played Rafa in 2003, ok? In Bastad. The first time we played, Rafa was 17. I beat him 7-6 in the third (set). I saved four match points. He was this giant kid, baby face, huge arms fighting like a bull,” he remembered.
Although Lapentti praised Carlos Alcaraz for his incredible form at the age of 19, he also wondered whether the 2022 US Open champion would be able to maintain his consistency similar to that of the 22-time Grand Slam winner, who hasn’t left the top 10 in the ATP rankings since 2005.
“So that’s already almost 20 years ago. I mean, he’s been 20 years on tour. So, that’s the thing that amazes me the most. Is Alcaraz going to be able to stay 10 years on top? Rafa, I think Rafa hasn’t left top-10 in the past 20 years or something. I mean, It’s just crazy," he expressed.
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Poll : Is Carlos Alcaraz better as a 19-year-old than Rafael Nadal?