Carlos Alcaraz was good enough to win the 2022 US Open at the age of 19.
Twelve months later he is also reigning Wimbledon champion and the winner of six titles while totting up more tour victories than anyone (57) this year.
And the Spaniard underlined the size of the task facing 2021 champion Daniil Medvedev when they meet in this year’s semi-final at Flushing Meadows when he declared: “Last year I was facing my first semi-final of a Grand Slam. Now I’m facing my fourth one. I feel like I’m a totally different player.
“I feel like I’m more mature. I deal better with the pressure in those kinds of moments. I’m a different person and a different player.”
The neutral, it seems, wishes for him to secure a date with Novak Djokovic in the final of the year’s final Grand Slam in a repeat of their All England decider showdown. And the Spaniard is in the mood to keep his side of the bargain when he takes on Medvedev.
Alcaraz, who beat German Alexander Zverev in the last eight, is confident against Medvedev, having overcome the Russian third seed in straight sets at Wimbledon and Indian Wells in 2023.
He said: “The last matches that I played against Daniil I played a tactical game perfectly. I think my game suits well against an opponent like Daniil.
“It would be great to play a final against Novak here in New York but we both have really tough semi-finals. But obviously both of us are looking for that potential final.”
Medvedev admitted he would need an “11 out of ten” performance to defeat Alcaraz.
Djokovic, 36, takes on home favourite Ben Shelton as he bids to take another step towards equalling Margaret Court’s record number of Slam singles titles of 24.
The three-time champion, chasing his first New York title in five years having missed the 2022 tournament because of his Covid vaccination status, is after his second successive win over an American having dismissed Taylor Fritz in the quarter finals.
And Djokovic is ready to use the “energy” of the host crowd in an attempt to down Sheldon.
Djokovic said: “Sometimes I just like to not really pay attention to what’s going on in the stands, but sometimes I want to respond and I want to feed off that energy.
“It’s normal, it’s logical to expect that most of the crowd would support the home player. That’s probably going to be the case, but I’ll be ready for it.”