for a man blessed with so many remarkable talents, a crucial element in Dylan Alcott’s historic triumph in New York on Sunday when he became the first man to win the golden slam, proved relatively easy to deploy.
The 30-year-old once again commanded the court in his 7-5, 6-2 win over Dutchman Niels Vink in the US Open quad men’s singles final at Flushing Meadows as he completed his set of four traditional grand slams. completed. tournaments and also an Olympic gold medal in a calendar year.
As a trailblazing talent, Alcott’s legacy in tennis and as a champion for wheelchair-bound athletes was long-established. But the sheer magnitude of a task completed with distinction in Queens had weighed on the 15-time grand slam winner.
Two years ago, when he was able to complete the grand slam in New York, he was upset in the final and later acknowledged that the pressure was derailing him. It’s something Novak Djokovic, who was beaten by Daniil Medvedev when he bid to complete the grand slam, pointed out when he emphasized how difficult he found the test.
The key to last week’s success, Alcott said, was perspective. He had to find peace in a confrontational situation caused by his supreme excellence on the court. The answer came from mindset coach Ben Crowe, who he shares with Ash Barty, number 1 in the women’s world. He was reminded to enjoy the moment.
If you try to fake energy because you’re tired, you’ll get mad at yourself for not feeling energetic. That’s how I was this week, he said. [But] I had fun today. I have really enjoyed it. I’ll never get a chance to win a golden slam again. I was like, let’s go out, enjoy, do it for my team, for our country.
Hours after his crowning achievement, Alcott stole the hearts of fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium during Medvedev’s win over Djokovic with a larrikin celebration.
The crowds in New York are rough. They love the theater of sports. Sitting amid an A-list audience of movie stars and tennis greats, including Rod Laver, Alcott hit another ace. He poured a beer into his championship trophy and, with Bob Hawke’s confidence, made it to the delight of the crowd, with images of his celebration quickly going viral on social media.
There was no chance I wouldn’t drink that beer to Arthur Ashe after I’d just won the gold medal, he said.
The Melburnian, who was born with a tumor around his spinal cord, has the fortunate talent of attracting attention whenever he enters a room. Admittedly, the largest tennis court in the world in terms of audience capacity, Arthur Ashe Stadium is a much bigger stage than what he normally stands in front of as a motivational speaker.
But this ability and the passion with which he approaches his role as a mentor to younger athletes has been vital in helping him spread the word about a sport that is growing. His speeches after winning Wimbledon in 2019, and again in July, dripped diamonds. Alcott’s forehands pack a punch, but his ability to deliver a humorous punch line attracts a lot of people.
As valuable as his showmanship has been in promoting a wider profile, it shouldn’t overshadow the traits that made him a champion. He is a very driven athlete who has worked extremely hard to succeed. Like Djokovic and Barty, it’s work away from the grand slam stages that allowed him to deliver from Melbourne Park to Flushing Meadows with such panache this year.
A teenage member of the Australian Rollers, a wheelchair basketball team that won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, before turning to tennis, he is the ultimate professional. Alcott is a brilliant shotmaker. His technique is sublime and a younger athlete like Vink strives to match. But talent alone doesn’t win tournaments.
Alcott had to improve year after year to maintain his ascendancy. His serve is stronger. He has an excellent touch to the net. His speed on wheels is blinding. This is the result of hours of work to calibrate the style that has made him a champion.
Importantly, Alcott believes the most important part of his career is yet to come. And it has nothing to do with his pursuit of an eighth Australian Open crown in January next year.
I just want to leave the sport in a better place for the next generation of young tennis players, wheelchair tennis players and tennis players in general, he said. I hope I played a very small part in that. I am proud to be disabled. I am proud to play wheelchair tennis. I am proud that Ive won the golden slam in wheelchair tennis.
I want to be myself. I am proud of myself. I am proud of the journey we have had.
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