19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz ended a remarkable US Open run by defeating Casper Ruud to claim his first grand slam title. On his route to the title was a particularly entertaining clash with 21-year-old Jannik Sinner, which showed fans glimpses of a rivalry that could potentially dominate the sport for the next decade.
The tennis landscape is changing as the dominant era of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic appears to be coming to an end. Federer has not been a top contender for a few years, but Djokovic and Nadal have won between them won each of the other three grand slams in 2022.
Despite both players having continued to see success at the ages of 35 and 36, respectively, tennis is not too far away from an era without these established names. For years now, the sport has searched for the next great successor to these men, with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Dominic Thiem just a few of those that have been touted.
None of these, however, have truly staked their claim as the player to topple the aging giants of tennis, and so the sport’s overall narrative has changed little. The arrival of Carlos Alcaraz, announced via his win at the US Open in New York last week, feels different.
Even before his triumph at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the Spanish teenager has been tipped as a future prospect, in part thanks to his development through the Rafael Nadal Academy in Mallorca. This link to Nadal adds not only expectation but also a compelling storyline that fans and sponsors can get behind.
A marketing narrative around Alcaraz is already written – as the protégée who is now surpassing his master. His style on and off the court is also unlikely to deter fans and sponsors, with exceptional athleticism and constant interaction and engagement with spectators.
Despite his young age, Alcaraz has already been involved in some incredible matches in 2022 alone, with the standout being his quarter-final against Jannik Sinner. Alcaraz came back in that match from match points down advance in an epic game that did not finish until gone 3AM local time. The quality of tennis on display has left fans hyped for the next matchup between the two, and, given the young age of both players, this could evolve into a sustained rivalry.
Such rivalries in tennis are important for fan engagement, but they also help to push the marketability of the players involved, with the likes of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic undoubtedly having been helped in their careers off the court by the global fascination around their encounters on it.
Twelve months ago, the main story coming out of the US Open followed the breakthrough of British teen sensation Emma Raducanu. Though Alcaraz’s win has come as less of a surprise, the impact could yet follow a similar pattern. Raducanu cashed in on her success early and now has a nine-brand sponsorship portfolio, which includes big brands such as Tiffany, Porsche, and Dior. Her global appeal and international lineage have helped with this marketability and her to amass an estimated annual revenue of $9.78 million.
Alcaraz’s global fanbase will now grow, and with the first slam to his name, his sponsorship earnings are also set to soar. His combined social media following has already increased from 394,649 (January 14, 2022) to 2,423,031 (September 1, 2022) – growth 513.97% in under eight months.
His current sponsorship portfolio includes Babolat, Nike, BMW, Rolex, and ElPozo Alimenta and earns him an estimated $600,000 a year. History with Raducanu shows just how much this value could grow over the next 12 months, while sustained success like his compatriot Nadal could see him on the path to the top of sports rich lists, earning tens of millions of dollars.
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