IT’S not too often you see a legend in the making. 

Carlos Alcaraz is, however, almost certainly a future great. 

For twenty years, there’s been talk of who is going to take over from tennis’ “Big Three”. 

In the early days, there was the suggestion that it would be the likes of Juan Martin del Potro and Kei Nishikori, then it was predicted it would be Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

Alcaraz has jumped the queue and overtaken them all. 

The 19-year-old may still only be a teenager but he seems certain to be the future of tennis

Already, there is talk that he could even overtake the Big Three of Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on most-ever grand slams. 

Most of the time, this kind of hyperbole is excessive, and time reveals that the predictions were, in fact, a touch extravagant. 

But with Alcaraz, it seems impossible to imagine that, over the next decade-or-so, he will not cement himself as one of tennis’ greatest ever players. 

This time last year, the Spaniard was being talked about as a significant talent. 

A number of good results last year, including becoming the youngest-ever ATP Tour champion since 2008 and the youngest men’s US Open quarter-finalist in history were enough to highlight his obvious ability to the masses but it is the past few months that have confirmed his status as the “next big thing” 

In winning the Madrid Masters event last weekend, Alcaraz became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic back-to-back on clay, and the first teenager to beat them in consecutive matches anywhere, before he thumped world number three, Zverev, in the final. 

Defeating both Nadal and Djokovic in the space of a couple of days says much about Alcaraz but it is the manner in which he is storming up the rankings – he is now at a career high number six – that is quite so remarkable. 

His physicality is literally unheard of, in tennis anyway. 

For a teenager, he has the physique of a fully-grown man and has the fitness levels of someone ten years older than himself. 

But it’s not merely the physical side of his game that’s so impressive. 

The teenager appears to have everything. 

He has the technique, the skills and, perhaps most importantly, the mindset required to become one of the greats. 

There was a sense from quite a few of tennis’ younger generation that they were waiting for Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to retire before they would start seriously racking up grand slam titles. 

Certainly, the fact that of the twenty major tournaments since 2017, only two have been won by anyone other than members of the Big Three suggests that the young players biding their time was perhaps the most sensible option.  

But Alcaraz has no interest in waiting his turn. 

Going into the French Open, which begins next weekend, the Spaniard is one of the hot favorites to win the title. 

Only a few months ago, such a statement would have seemed wildly optimistic. Now it seems obvious. 

What will be interesting will be to see how he fares over five sets, particularly against his compatriot, Nadal, and world number one, Djokovic, both of whom are masters of winning longer matches. 

So many have fallen short when they take on this pair in the five set format. 

But Alcaraz is showing, despite his youth, that he has the staying power to last three, four, even five hours against these greats. 

For years, the talk has been about who would take over the mantle from the Big Three. 

I think we now know for sure who it’s going to be. 


The news that the National Tennis Academy in Stirling is to close in 2024, just five years after opening, is something of a blow to tennis in this country. 

Admittedly, the centre has hardly been a haven for Scottish tennis players – since it launch in 2019, only one Scottish player has been involved.  

At the time of its launch, Tennis Scotland chief executive Blane Dodds said it could provide "a pathway for champions" but its safe to say, with hindsight, that’s been a wildly optimistic prediction. 

The venture has fallen significantly short of what anyone would call an overwhelming success, particularly from a Scottish point of view. 

The National Academy will relocate to Loughborough and while Scottish players will, of course, be eligible to be considered for all the academies down south, the absence of a single one in Scotland doesn’t say much for the sport in this country. 

As the end of Andy Murray’s career draws near, the promise of capitalising on his legacy becomes less and less convincing, especially for Scottish players. 


The athletics season begun in earnest yesterday with the opening Diamond League of the year in Doha and next week’s event, in Birmingham, will see most of Scotland’s major players in the sport open up their seasons. 

This could, potentially, be the start of a quite incredible few months for athletics in this country. 

With the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships all taking place within the space of five weeks this summer, there are no shortage of medal opportunities and with the likes of Laura Muir and Josh Kerr aiming to build on their Olympic success, as well as the next generation, that includes Jemma Reekie, going for their first major championships medals, this could well prove to be the best summer the sport in Scotland has seen for decades.