Carlos Alcaraz has been lighting up the tennis stages around the world over the last couple of years, but he is still a little star-struck by his sporting heroes.
Alcaraz met football great Lionel Messi earlier this summer at the Laureus Sports Awards, where Alcaraz won the Breakthrough of the Year Award and Messi was named World Sportsman of the Year.
The 20-year-old Spanish tennis star is a big soccer fan and a supporter of Real Madrid, but he admitted he was delighted to meet Barcelona legend Messi.
“It’s crazy. I’ve never met him before,” Alcaraz said. “It’s crazy to see him here metres from me. It’s crazy, it’s crazy, honestly.”
Now Alcaraz has sparked up a friendship with someone a little closer to his own age, as he had been messaging England and Real Madrid star, Jude Bellingham.
The defending champion spread his arms wide, mimicking England midfielder Bellingham’s goal celebration, after beating Alexander Zverev in straight sets on Wednesday night.
Alcaraz posted a picture on X, formerly known as Twitter, captioned “Hey Jude!”, and tagged Bellingham.
His fellow 20-year-old responded on Thursday morning, writing: “Que maquina! (What a machine) Keep going mate.”
Keep going mate.
— Jude Bellingham (@BellinghamJude) September 7, 2023
Alcaraz spoke about his admiration for Bellingham, who has hit the ground running in LaLiga with five goals in his first four games after a big-money move from Borussia Dortmund.
“I’m really happy to watch him play in Real Madrid. He’s such a great, talented player, one of the best in the world,” said Messi.
“I’m sure that he’s going to be the best player in the world in that position,” Alcaraz said after his second round win over Lloyd Harris.
“I’m just really, really happy to have him in the team. I talk a little bit with him.
“He’s such a great person, as well. He’s a complete guy. I love watching the matches, following the scores.”
Sporting stars can learn a lot from each other and Alcaraz’s great rival Novak Djokovic spoke about this topic after revealing his friendship with NFL great Tom Brady and soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a source of inspiration.
“I try to maintain and nurture relationships with athletes from different sports because, as an athlete, of course, I relate to them,” said Djokovic.
“I identify myself with what they are doing and I can understand the pain, the sacrifice, the dedication.
“I respect the greatness, especially the guys that have made it to an all-time great level in their respective sports. Those are the kind of people that you want to be around. You want to learn things from them because you never know, there are things that can be so inspirational, as they are in my relationship with Tom (Brady).”
Djokovic went on to talk about Aaron Rogers appearance in the stands at the US Open, as he suggested his friendship with Ibrahimovic is boosted by a mutual understanding of their cultures.
“It was a pleasure to have Aaron in the stands tonight for the match. I’m hoping he enjoyed himself,” said Djokovic
“Obviously him, Tom Brady being in my box for Roland Garros finals and sitting next to my wife, was a huge honour. I have a relationship with Tom for several years. We go back. I have tremendous respect for him.
“Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) is my favourite football player, no doubt. His Balkan mentality is something that is very familiar to me, let’s say, even though maybe it looks weird to the rest of the world. I understand him very, very well, have known him the last 15 years.
“Nikola Jokic is the best basketball player in the world at the moment. Incredible guy. Everyone is so amazed with his skills, what he does on a basketball court.
“I’m not a basketball expert, so I can’t really talk about his game so much, but I’m a huge fan.
“Obviously a Serbian basketball player coming from Serbia, dominating the NBA, is something that doesn’t happen very often.
“I think it never happened in the history of our basketball in Serbia, that we had the best basketball player in the NBA. That’s amazing. We all love him, support him.”
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