“Carlos Alcaraz Will Win French Open 2024!”: Ex-World No.1 Who Beat John McEnroe as 18-Year-Old Makes Bold Prediction

“Carlos Alcaraz Will Win French Open 2024!”: Ex-World No.1 Who Beat John McEnroe as 18-Year-Old Makes Bold Prediction

Paul McNamee, the ex-Australian Open tournament director has raised eyebrows with his recent comments on clay. In an episode titled ‘The Sit Down with Paul McNamee’ on The AO Show podcast, McNamee talked about why he believes clay-court players are superior and argued about Carlos Alcaraz being the best player in the world on that surface who will dominate in the years to come.

Paul McNamee is of the opinion that with his non-linear gameplay, Carlos Alcaraz has what it takes to succeed on clay. He also confidently predicted Alcaraz as the winner of the upcoming French Open 2024, and many more Grand Slams there in the future. McNamee was quoted as saying:

“Next in line would be Carlos Alcaraz. It was almost a miracle he didn’t win the French Open last year, and he will win it this year. I mean, unless something amazing happens. He is that good, this guy on clay. This guy is the real deal. He’s got it all. He could win 10 Roland Garros. I mean we’re not saying 14 like Rafa, but for me, he is far and away the best player on clay right now.

“So, the last few years on Roland Garros, I go and watch Carlos Alcaraz. It brings me joy to see a guy do when he is doing the drop shots, the angles, the mixing of the power with the finesse. He’s all-court mastery, grew up in Spain. He’s not linear, Jannik Sinner’s linear. Great player but linear. Alcaraz is not. There’s a difference.”

At the 2023 French Open, an injured Carlos Alcaraz lost to Novak Djokovic in the semi-final – 3-6, 7-5, 1-6, 1-6. But the Spaniard made up for that loss by defeating the Serb in the Wimbledon final. McNamee believes this is just the beginning for Alcaraz and his prowess on every surface will fetch him greater heights than Jannik Sinner.

McNamee began his episode by talking about his 2021 book ‘Welcome to the Dance: Master Clay to Master Tennis’. The tagline is a piece of advice that he swears by. Without offending players whose strong suits are grass or hard, he states that clay courts are the true judge of a tennis player. It is like a ‘Dance’ to him.

“It does help a lot, I think for your holistic approach to the game, and then when you retire and you are coaching because you’ve gone through that whole process and everybody has different strengths and weaknesses in their game, as a coach you need to match that with the surface that they are playing. So I’m not a great fan of players who are not good on clay. Yeah, that’s true,” said Paul McNamee on the podcast.

To further evaluate his appreciation for clay and what it’s like to play on it, he compared it to chess. He considers clay court tennis a completely different game due to its ‘back-and-forth nature’. The mental approach required on clay depends a lot on strategy rather than power.

“Well look Rafa and Bjorn Borg are far and away the grand masters, we can call them chess, cause clay is chess at the end of the day, hard court is draught. They are quite different games. One is linear, one is angular, one has nuances, one does not. So, a clay court is a chess board. So, the grandmasters are Rafael Nadal and Bjorn Borg,” McNamee added.

McNamee chose his two greatest clay court players ever – Rafael Nadal and Bjorn Borg. While Rafael Nadal’s clay-court exploits are well-celebrated, Bjorn Borg too is a legend, who won the French Open 6 times.

When it comes to his own career, Paul McNamee won 2 ATP men’s singles titles – The Palm Harbor Open and the Baltimore International. They are both now defunct. While neither of them were on clay, McNamee played 5 more ATP finals, 4 of which were on clay.

However, McNamee’s biggest claim to fame was beating American tennis legend John McEnroe as an 18-year-old. At the 1980 French Open, Paul McNamee upset John McEnroe in the third round – 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6.

Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal Sang Praises of Carlos Alcaraz Before Paul McNamee Did

Last year in May, when Carlos Alcaraz had reached the final of the Madrid Open, Swedish legend Bjorn Borg spoke exclusively to Eurosport about the Spaniard’s potential. Alcaraz went on to win the Madrid Open, beating Jan-Lennard Struff in the final by 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. But before that, this is what Borg spoke about him.

“After this week he’s going to be No. 1 in the world, and I think he’s going to be staying there for many years. This was a semi-final today, I think he has a good chance to win the final. But to watch this guy play is unbelievable, I’m very impressed,” said Bjorn Borg to Eurosport.

Although Alcaraz hasn’t quite managed to sustain at the World No.1 spot for long, he is still considered the future of the sport.

Bjorn Borg also spoke about wishing Rafael Nadal a speedy recovery. Nadal, the undisputed champion of clay, has himself previously hailed Carlos Alcaraz as the one player who can succeed him. Therefore, Paul McNamee’s compliments are just another remarkable feather in Alcaraz’s glorious cap.

Related Articles