How new king of Centre Court Carlos Alcaraz grew up with a poster of Federer on his wall – Maxsports
May 15, 2024

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How new king of Centre Court Carlos Alcaraz grew up with a poster of Federer on his wall

Like his idol Roger Federer, he’s the tennis ace with the makings of stardom who could dominate the sport in the years to come.

And Carlos Alcaraz is well on his way after beating seven-time Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic today at The All England Club in an intense five-set final. 

The epic win marks only the second ever grand slam victory for the young tennis star – who is just 20 years old. 

Alcaraz is without doubt one of the hottest commodities in tennis, having netted multiple lucrative endorsement deals from brands such as Calvin Klein, BMW, Rolex and Nike. 

And if past winners are anything to go by, he could bag a host of new deals as a result of today’s victory. When British tennis star Emma Raducanu won the US Open in 2021 aged just 18 she quickly became the face of designer brands Tiffany & Co., Dior and Porsche to – name a few.

His impressive footwork has been likened to Federer, his ability to cover a court to Rafael Nadal, and his mental focus to ice-cold Novak Djokovic.

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz raises his trophy after beating Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during their men’s singles final tennis match on the last day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club

This photo shows Alcaraz posing topless for Hearst España

This photo shows Alcaraz posing topless for Hearst España

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates victory over Novak Djokovic following the Gentlemen's Singles final on day fourteen of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates victory over Novak Djokovic following the Gentlemen’s Singles final on day fourteen of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships

In this photo Alcaraz poses in Calvin Klein underwear for a Calvin Klein photoshoot

In this photo Alcaraz poses in Calvin Klein underwear for a Calvin Klein photoshoot  

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain celebrates victory following the Men's Singles Final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day fourteen of The Championships Wimbledon 2023

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain celebrates victory following the Men’s Singles Final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day fourteen of The Championships Wimbledon 2023

They are skills which have seen the Spaniard make the dizzying ascent to world number one seed – a remarkable feat, made all the more extraordinary by the fact he’s just 20.

From the small town in El Palmar, down the coast from the sunny city of Alicante, the US Open winner is the youngest Number One in the history of the current ranking system. And having seen off his childhood friend and one-time doubles partner, Denmark’s Holger Rune, he had set his sights firmly on the Wimbledon title.

Reports suggest that he is also apparently single, having previously dated stunning tennis player Maria Gonzalez Gimenez and glamorous Spanish singer Ana Mena.

You might be forgiven for thinking the sudden surge to fame would unsettle any youngster.  

But none of this comes as a surprise to anyone who knew the sportsman when he was growing up, the second of four sporty boys born to devoted dad Carlos and mum Virginia, who was until recently a shop assistant at IKEA.

Home is an unassuming two-floor penthouse flat, the second floor of which is home to an office (for his dad) and space for the sportsman’s ever-swelling collection of kit.

His father, who is also called Carlos and used to run an estate agency, manages his accounts and Alcaraz says he has no need for flash bling or fast cars – after all, he gets a new BMW every year with his sponsorship.

He told Vogue: ‘I’m quite young and I’ve got my whims, but I’m very natural, normal, humble.

‘I don’t really pay much attention to brands and cars. If I like something, I try to buy it, but in the end my father takes care of everything.’

Alcaraz – who preferred to hit a ball around than go to the cinema – had a poster of his hero Roger Federer on the wall as a child, and his coach says the only distraction that ever threatened his focus from age nine to 17 was his mobile phone.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain in action during the Men's Singles final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain in action during the Men’s Singles final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia

Away from the court, Alcaraz (pictured with his coach Kito Navarro) is a huge Real Madrid fan and has exchanged texts with their players, Vinicius Jnr watching him play live a couple of times

Away from the court, Alcaraz (pictured with his coach Kito Navarro) is a huge Real Madrid fan and has exchanged texts with their players, Vinicius Jnr watching him play live a couple of times 

Catherine, Princess of Wales presents Carlos Alcaraz with the Wimbledon gentlemen's singles trophy on Centre Court

Catherine, Princess of Wales presents Carlos Alcaraz with the Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles trophy on Centre Court

Alcaraz of Spain celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Casper Ruud of Norway during their Men's Singles Final match on Day Fourteen of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2022

Alcaraz of Spain celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Casper Ruud of Norway during their Men’s Singles Final match on Day Fourteen of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2022

Alcaraz's rumoured ex-girlfriend Maria Gonzalez Gimenez

Alcaraz’s rumoured ex-girlfriend Maria Gonzalez Gimenez

This photo shows Alcaraz posing next to a BMW for a campaign

This photo shows Alcaraz posing next to a BMW for a campaign 

Alcaraz posing with his trophy in the locker room next to his father, Carlos Snr, after beating Alex De Minaur in the Men's Singles Final match at The Queen's Club on June 25, 2023

Alcaraz posing with his trophy in the locker room next to his father, Carlos Snr, after beating Alex De Minaur in the Men’s Singles Final match at The Queen’s Club on June 25, 2023 

In a complaint familiar with parents across the globe, his coach as a teenager Kiko Navarro sighed: ‘It was sometimes a source of tension when he was younger because he’d stay up late on the mobile and wouldn’t get the amount of rest I thought he should.’

But sensibly these days he counts a psychologist among his sizeable entourage – and has done since he was a child with a somewhat fiery temper.

‘When he was a kid he would break rackets when he lost a point or a game and I’d have to let him walk around the club on his own and cry and relax before I could talk to him about his attitude,’ Navarro added.

‘But that sort of character is fundamental to someone becoming a winner. Carlos wants to win at everything he does, even board games.’

A skill, incidentally, he also counts among his talents – his grandfather, 80 and also called Carlos, taught all his grandchildren to play chess, and credits it with helping Alcaraz to think tactically during his games.

Away from the court, he is a huge Real Madrid fan and has exchanged texts with their players, Vinicius Jnr watching him play live a couple of times.

He also has a charity to help people with Downs Syndrome and auctioned his US Open-winning trainers to raise money for charity Assido.

But it is his attitude that stands out – another thing he inherited from his family.

If he lifts the championship trophy on Sunday, eagle-eyed viewers will be able to see a small tattoo on his powerful forearm.

Three ‘c’s, standing for cerebro, corazon and cojones – brains, heart and balls – are a touching nod to his grandfather’s mantra.

But if it were not for the financial backing of Alfonso Lopez Rueda, the tennis-loving president of Spanish cake and yoghurt giant Postres Reina, Alcaraz Jnr’s tale might have ended up the same as his father, a promising player hampered by a lack of funding.

Lopez Rueda found out about the young talent when he was asked to watch young Alcaraz after being implored to do so by a friend at the tennis club.

Seeing the armoury of shots that belied his 10 years of age, he put up €2,000 for Alcaraz to travel to a junior tournament in Croatia. He lost in the final but Postres Reina continued to fund him until he turned professional, with their logo on his sleeve.

This childhood photo shows Alcaraz playing tennis as a boy

This childhood photo shows Alcaraz playing tennis as a boy

Alcaraz as a young boy pictured with his coach, Kiko Navarro

Alcaraz as a young boy pictured with his coach, Kiko Navarro

Alcaraz posing for a photo with Roger Federer

Alcaraz posing with Rafael Nadal

Alcaraz pictured posing with Roger Federer (left) and Rafael Nadal (right)

The pair met for the first time at a grand slam in the semi-finals of the French Open last month in the most anticipated match of the year so far.

For two pulsating sets it lived up to its billing before Alcaraz was struck down by cramp, which he later attributed to the tension of the situation.

With Alcaraz and Djokovic the top two seeds at the All England Club, a rematch could have only taken place in the final.

The 20-year-old was far less experienced than his rival on grass in particular but showed how exceptionally quickly he learns by lifting the trophy at Queen’s Club last month, propelling him back past Djokovic to reclaim the world number one ranking.

Runner-up Djokovic and Wimbledon men's singles title winner Alcaraz pose with their trophies after the gripping final

Runner-up Djokovic and Wimbledon men’s singles title winner Alcaraz pose with their trophies after the gripping final 

Alcaraz celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Australia's Alex de Minaur at the Queens Club tennis tournament in London, Britain, June 25, 2023

Alcaraz celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Australia’s Alex de Minaur at the Queens Club tennis tournament in London, Britain, June 25, 2023 

Alcaraz celebrates beating Chile's Nicolas Jarry in a men's singles match on day six of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 8, 2023

Alcaraz celebrates beating Chile’s Nicolas Jarry in a men’s singles match on day six of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 8, 2023 

Now Alcaraz has emerged triumphant in his Wimbledon final match with Novak Djokovic.

He told the crowd: ‘It is a dream come true for me. Even if I lost, I would have been proud of myself.

‘To be able to play in these stages of these occasions – as a boy of 20 years old – is really fast. I’m really proud of myself.’

As the player who admits to studying videos of Federer and Murray to hone his grass court skills said earlier this year: ‘I’ve always been a very talented kid. But I’ve always worked hard, because if you’re talented and don’t make an effort you get nowhere.’

But does Alcaraz see himself as the new Federer or Nadal?

‘I don’t want to be the next Rafa or Roger,’ he says. ‘I want to be the new Carlitos.’