EXCLUSIVE: Mats Wilander declares Emma Raducanu and Carlos Alcaraz both have ‘right attitude’ on their development
Teen talents Carlos Alcaraz and US Open champion Emma Raducanu both have the backing of seven-time Slam champion Mats Wilander.
A teen success himself, Wilander won his first Major at just 17 years old at Roland Garros 1982, before securing a second Slam before turning 20, winning the 1983 Australian Open aged 19.
Not only that, but on both occasions he defeated former champions more than 10 years his senior.
In Paris in 1982, Wilander defeated former Roland Garros champion Guillermo Vilas, then 29,
Later on the Melbourne grass in 1983, he downed two-time defending champion Johan Kriek, then 34, on the way to the Australian Open title.
Tennishead asked Warner Bros. Discovery expert Wilander if the pressure on young players is higher earlier.
He said: “I think the world is pushing people in that direction, yes.
“The world and the world of tennis media seem to believe there’s something you have to learn along the way.
“That there’s [something] that there’s no way you could have learned when you were 12, 13, 14, or that you have to have been born with a certain attitude.
“It’s a very shallow assumption to think just because you’re 18 you’re not mature enough to enter the real world.”
Raducanu is one player who defied that assumption when she not only won the 2021 US Open as an 18-year-old, but moreover did so as a qualifier, a feat never before achieved in men’s or women’s singles.
She had played just one Slam main draw before, at Wimbledon just two months prior, and had only made her tour level mere weeks before that in early June 2021.
While Alcaraz is yet to win a Major at time of publication, the 19-year-old has achieved unprecedented milestones of his own already.
Two of those are his winning his all of his first four tour level finals, and doing so all in straight sets, while the other is him becoming the first man ever to down Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same clay court event.
Continuing on, Wilander is happy people now recognise how brilliant, but also possible, such achievements are.
He said: “We’re digging and stirring things up and saying that it’s amazing that you can be 18 or 19 and you already know how to [compete].
“I think it’s a good thing we have 19-year-olds who can win Slams and 37, 38-year-olds who can win Slams.
“This is very healthy for the sport.”
Wilander admitted teenagers like Alcaraz and Raducanu obviously do not have the same knowledge and experience as players who has been pro for more than a decade.
However, he sees the emotional approach that these youngsters take as being far more important.
He continued: “An emotional state is an emotional state.
“It doesn’t mean that Alcaraz has the knowledge, doesn’t mean he has the experience.
“It just means his mind is in a place where most people never get to.
“Because we think we can get there through learning and knowledge, maturity whatever.
“He’s already there, he has the right outlook on life.
“He’s positive [but] not expecting perfection.”
At the moment, everything Alcaraz touches seems to turn to gold, having already won two Masters 1000 events in 2022.
On the other hand, Raducanu has struggled for fitness and form since her surprise US Open triumph.
She has compiled a win-loss record of 9-12 in all competitions in the seven months since New York.
Despite her difficulties adjusting to life on tour, Wilander praised the Brit for her outlook in that time.
He said: “Emma Raducanu has that right attitude as well.
“She’s not winning at the moment, [but] she dealt with the US Open the way that we hope every person can deal with adversity.
“That is, no fear, calm, and fighting on.
“Fight on, try different things.
“That’s it, simple.”
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