Carlos Alcaraz is a breath of recent air in a tennis panorama dominated for many years by three males — and a fully present for Spanish followers particularly.
However this joke — which we assume it was — is perhaps going too far.
Alcaraz has returned from an harm that noticed him miss this yr’s Australian Open with a bang on the tour’s so-called fifth main in Indian Wells.
He stormed right into a semi-final conflict in opposition to Jannik Sinner — who’s turning into a daily dance accomplice and potential long-term rival — with a 6-4 6-4 dispatching of Felix Auger-Aliassime.
But it surely was a sight up within the grandstand that proved the largest speaking level for tennis followers, when one man decked out in Barcelona gear unfurled a Spanish flag.
He’d made a obvious adjustment for Alcaraz’s match, taping over the phrase “Rafa” and including “Carlitos”.
Even in jest, it was disturbing to see 22-time grand slam winner Nadal — who’s at present out injured — so all of the sudden put out to pasture.
Nadal continues to be the reigning French Open champion, received two of the 4 majors final yr and is definitely the final man you’d need to write off regardless of his physique persevering with to let him down at 36 years of age.
Followers erupted when a picture of the supporter was shared on Reddit.
“What the f***, you understand you possibly can simply get a brand new flag man,” wrote one.
“Bahaha, that is hilarious. Poor man is gonna must get one other flag when Nadal is again on tour,” added one other.
“Typical glory hunter fan, no marvel he’s sporting a Barca hoody,” wrote a 3rd.
“Excessive treason! That is hilarious,” added a fourth.
“Carlitos is a pleasant hopeful transition for Rafa followers when Rafa retires years from now,” a fifth wrote.
“Most likely after 2024 and I can see Rafa going for 2025 if he nonetheless has hope for Roland Garros and why not.
“Federer followers didn’t have a countryman different that was younger and upcoming like this overlapping so that is superior.”
Alcaraz, the 2022 US Open winner, posted his first victory over Auger-Aliassime in 4 conferences to maintain his bid to regain the world primary rating on observe.
“It’s great to beat Felix lastly, and the way in which I did it, enjoying at an amazing stage,” stated the 19-year-old, who known as it maybe his finest match of the season.
Italy’s Sinner reached the ultimate 4 with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over defending champion Taylor Fritz and now has an opportunity to avenge his loss to Alcaraz in an electrifying quarter-final on the US Open final yr.
That five-set battle lasted 5 hours and quarter-hour, its 2:50am end the newest in US Open historical past. Alcaraz would go on to elevate the trophy and turn out to be the youngest world primary within the historical past of the ATP rankings.
“We’ve performed a number of instances and all of the matches have been very powerful,” Alcaraz stated. “I like this type of problem, I’m going to take pleasure in it.”
Alcaraz hadn’t dropped a set in reaching the quarters, however Auger-Aliassime was the primary top-10 participant he has confronted this yr.
This time, Alcaraz was prepared for him, saying his prior defeats to the Canadian had taught him to “keep there.”
The 2-hour conflict was an exhilarating show of athleticism and shot making from each gamers.
— with AFP