"I finished the week playing at a high level so, right now, I feel like one of the favorites to win Wimbledon," said the Spaniard on Sunday just after lifting the Queen's trophy, while immediately specifying that he needed "more experience on grass" to achieve his maximum performance.
"Knowing how to move is the key on grass. It determines whether you're going to play well or not," he said after qualifying last week for his first quarter-final on this surface.
On grass, "you have to take a lot of small steps when approaching the ball to brake gradually. We can't take, like on hard, a last big step and block," coach Patrick Mouratoglou told AFP.
"It can be very uncomfortable at first, but once you get used to it and feel good, it's no longer a problem," added the former coach of Serena Williams (three wins with her at Wimbledon).
"Carlos Alcaraz will get used to it very quickly, but he is quite brutal in what he does while the grass does not accept brutality and punishes it with feet that slip away or, worse, uncontrolled slips or loss of balance," Mouratoglou said.
Indeed, "Carlitos" quickly got used to it, to the point of surprising himself: "I did not think that my game and my movements (would adapt) so quickly," he said last Sunday.
"I feel like I've been playing on grass for ten years, which is pretty crazy for me," he added.
Carlos Alcaraz on the grass of the London Queen's tournament, June 25, 2023 © Adrian DENNIS / AFP/Archives
Because until then, he had only played two tournaments on grass: Wimbledon in 2021 (defeat in the 2nd round) and in 2022 (defeat in the 8th final).
So for his entry into the Queen's competition this year, he gave big signs of weakness in his footwork and had the greatest difficulty in dismissing the Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, 83rd and drafted from the qualifiers, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).
However, little by little he found his feet: "I watch the best on grass play, how they move. And on grass, for me Roger (Federer) and Andy (Murray) are the two best, the two who move the best. So I want to do like them," he suggested.
He could take a worse example since the Swiss holds the record of eight titles at Wimbledon and the Scot has triumphed twice, not to mention that he beat Federer in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Alcaraz deliberately leaves the example of the current best player on grass, Novak Djokovic who is unbeaten in the London Major since losing in the quarters in 2017, an ongoing run of 28 matches won for four titles.
"I'm not talking about Djokovic because he can slide like on a court on gravel," he said, adding that he was not able to do so.
"I can't slide on grass like I do on dirt or even on hard. You have to know it and train in order to adapt your movements and strikes," he said.
Novak Djokovic practices on a court at the Wimbledon complex, June 27, 2023 © Ben Stansall / AFP
Despite his lack of experience and naturalness on this surface, Alcaraz reached the 8th finals at Wimbledon last year and he only conceded after an anthology match against Jannik Sinner. The latter is the only player to have so far "copied" Djokovic by also sliding on grass, Mouratoglou said.
Statistics show that winning Queen's doesn't necessarily mean a Wimbledon title. But Alcaraz will inevitably be one of the favorites of Wimbledon 2023.
© 2023 AFP