US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz hesitated on his answer when asked about the possibility of Roger Federer becoming his coach. The Swiss sensation is due to retire from tennis after the Laver Cup this weekend and there remain unanswered questions on which direction his career will head in afterwards.
Alcaraz is hot property after battling to his first-ever Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows this month. Three consecutive five-set marathons were required to make it to the final, where he dispatched Casper Ruud in four sets to become world No 1.
That makes him the kind of player Federer may look to coach if he decided to explore that avenue. The 41-year-old released an emotional statement last week confirming that the Laver Cup would be his last competitive tennis tournament.
Federer certainly has enough expertise to share, having scooped up no less than 20 Grand Slam titles during the course of a glittering 24-year career.
Alcaraz was asked by Spanish TV programme El Hormiguero how he would respond to Federer asking to be his coach, to which he replied: “Why do you ask me this? [Juan Carlos Ferrero is] a second father and I would not change him for anyone.”
In Ferrero, Alcaraz already has a Grand Slam champion fighting his corner. The Spaniard won the French Open in 2003 and reached the US Open final in the same year. The pair began working together three years ago when Alcaraz was just 16 years old.
Despite the youngster’s heroics in New York, he won’t be competing at the Laver Cup in London this weekend. Instead, Team Europe will be made up of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Ruud as they take on a star-studded Team World involving Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz.
While that will provide plenty for fans to sink their teeth into with tennis’ ‘big four’ competing under one roof, Alcaraz himself will be disappointed not to turn out for Federer’s farewell tournament given that, as a youngster, he labelled him an ‘idol’. There should be plenty more chances for the teenager to compete against the best after showing a warrior mentality at Flushing Meadows, which he has since discussed in greater detail.
“It was one of the best games I’ve played in my career, without a doubt, on a mental and physical level” he said. “Telling myself that I can keep running, that he is going to have to sweat blood to beat me, gives me confidence.
“I felt like a winner because I felt very fresh. I also told myself negative things like ‘I didn’t touch that ball there’, I don’t stop repeating it to myself, I even insult myself sometimes.”