Carlos Alcaraz's maiden Grand Slam ended in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday, but his loss to Swede Mikael Ymer did nothing to dampen the excitement surrounding the Spanish teenage talent.
The 17-year-old has drawn the inevitable comparisons with compatriot Rafa Nadal, who emerged at a similarly precocious age, and the 20-times Grand Slam champion was among those ready to talk up his potential this week.
"He has intensity. He has the passion. He has the shots, and he's always the same in my opinion," Nadal said after training with Alcaraz in Melbourne.
"He has all the ingredients to become a great champion."
Although hardly an unknown entity when he arrived in Australia, Alcaraz made quite a statement with a 6-3 6-3 thrashing of world number 15 David Goffin in the Great Ocean Road Australian Open warm-up.
His victory was all the more remarkable for the fact that he had just come out of two weeks of hard quarantine, one of the unfortunate 72 players who were on flights to Australia with people who tested positive for COVID-19.
His first Grand Slam match was also impressive, a 6-1 6-4 6-4 win over Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp in the first round at Melbourne Park, but he reached the end of the line with a 2-6 6-4 6-4 7-6(5) loss to Ymer on Thursday.
Muy feliz de ganar mi primer partido en un Grand Slam @AustralianOpen, mis sensaciones han sido muy positivas #AusOpen😀— Carlos Alcaraz (@alcarazcarlos03) February 9, 2021
Very happy to win my first match in a Grand Slam @AustralianOpen, my feelings have been very positive #AusOpen😀 pic.twitter.com/YjMoZpDHkQ
"It's a tough day for me," he told reporters. "I don't want to lose ever. I learnt out of this match, I didn't manage my nerves. I think I have to do things better when the things are not going in a good way."
Ymer was another who thought Alcaraz, who is coached by former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero, had all the tools to get to the top of the game.
"He plays very good tennis and this of course I knew walking in, but what made me more impressed was that at this age he played so committed to his game style, no matter the score," said the 22-year-old.
"Looking back at my own career, that was one thing that takes a lot of time, really committing to what you have to do.
"I think he is the big possibility to be the future of our sport. Not only to be a very good tennis player, my first impression is that he's (also) a very nice guy."