We are reaching the closing stages of the Miami Open and we know our first women’s singles finalist is Wimbledon and Indian Wells champion Elena Rybakina. The Kazakhstan star is on the cusp of becoming the fifth female player to complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ (winning Indian Wells and the Miami Open in the same year) and we could also see the same happen in the men’s field with fellow young star Carlos Alcaraz.
The Spanish prodigy has been making quite a name for himself over the past 12 months by winning his maiden Grand Slam at the US Open last September at 19, while collecting a handful other ATP titles throughout the year. He has built on that astonishing breakthrough year by winning the player-loved Indian Wells, referred to as the ‘fifth slam’ due to its lucrative prize money and attendance.
The world number one defeated former top seed Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to lift the title in California earlier this month. At this stage, avid tennis fans are starting to get prepared for this familiar sight because there is something special about the young Spaniard and everyone is excited to follow his journey on court.
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On Saturday, Alcaraz will square up against Italian Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals of the Miami Open and, like Rybakina, he will be looking to complete the Sunshine Double. Should he accomplish this feat he will become the eighth male player behind Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Marcelo Rios, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to do so.
In Alcaraz’s case, the two most recent players to achieve the Sunshine Double are very important. Federer and Djokovic are part of the trinity, along with Rafael Nadal, that are regarded as the three greatest tennis players of all time. The succession of these three legends was always going to be an impossible task but Alcaraz is doing the right things to establish himself as the superstar of this new era.
There is so much to like about his game, his raw talent, his decision making but mainly his composure. He already behaves like a champion which in tennis usually leads to success. His ability to thrive under pressure is phenomenal and to already be at the level he is playing at while still a teenager is incredible. The scariest part this that is nowhere near the genuine article, so imagine the player he will be when he is at the peak of his powers.
There is no denying that Alcaraz has got a long way to go if he is to match or even emulate the incredible achievements of tennis’ three biggest icons. After all, Federer completed the Sunshine Double on three occasions, as well as winning 20 Grand Slam titles, whereas Djokovic did it four times alongside his 22 Grand Slam triumphs. At 19, Alcaraz still has time on his side to become a serial Grand Slam winner and all hopeful champions have to start somewhere.
He already has a US Open title to his name and if he were to go all the way in Miami this week, he would be laying down another marker that he has what it takes to cement himself as tennis’ great new sensation.