WATCH: Alcaraz speaks to the press after winning the 2023 BNP Paribas Open.


Craig O’Shannessy has studied tennis as much as anyone in the 21st century. And like all of us, he’s mesmerized by what Carlos Alcaraz can bring to the table. His most recent appearance on the Podcast with Kamau Murray attempted to answer the most difficult questions in the game: Why is this wonderkid so good? And how do you have success against him? The founder of Brain Game Tennis sees much more success in the young Spaniard’s future, and he uses his analytical approach to sum up why in this conversation.

The Indian Wells men’s final featured the game’s brightest young star with the hottest player. Daniil Medvedev was riding a 19-match win streak, collected three consecutive titles, and had won four straight matches against the Top 10. And none of it mattered.

“Carlitos set this stage early on yesterday with some longer bruising rallies,” O’Shannessy said after collecting his thoughts the day after the final. “Carlos is up on the baseline, just banging banging, banging. You could feel that the 19-year-old Spaniard’s gonna do this all day long. How is Medvedev going to get a ball past him?” Podcast - Craig O'Shannessy Podcast - Craig O'Shannessy

And with the conditions of the court and the desert air perfectly suited to the teenager’s liking, the match was one-way traffic.

“Alcaraz has just got all day to hit the ball, so how are you going hurt him?”

The other area of the Carlos Alcaraz rise that does not get discussed frequently is the cerebral side to his game. Murray praised the Spaniard’s “ability to use the short part of the court way more responsibly than anyone in his age group.” O’Shannessy agreed wholeheartedly and offered up a personal anecdote about one of the students he teaches.

“We were reviewing his match and he was about ready to hit a ball, and I paused it. And I said, watch the opponent down the other end. He’s moving before you hit the ball, and that’s what you need to look at,” the coach recalled.

After instructing him to use his peripheral vision to identify and anticipate his opponent’s actions, the lesson clicked in the student.

“For the first time he’s like, ‘Oh that’s how it works. I’m focused on the ball but I still see the opponent.’ And I think some players have it, some players don’t. And Carlitos has it in spades.”


O’Shannessy also offered thoughts on the women’s championships at Indian Wells, which saw Elena Rybakina knock off Aryna Sabalenka in a rematch from this year’s Australian Open final. The coach is impressed that the low-key Rybakina continues to churn out big results, while equally encouraged by Sabalenka’s sustained success.

“I love women’s tennis right now,” O’Shannessy echoed. “These girls are going after it, they’re backing themselves, they’re trusting their game and they’re going for the shots that are their to be hit.”


Kamau Murray makes it a point to call up Craig O’Shanessy after a big tennis event, because he knows their post-tournament assessments will be insightful, knowledgeable, and fun. Listen as the two tennis experts assess Ben Shelton’s potential, areas Iga Swiatek could improve, and which players they like to succeed in the Miami Open.

Learn something about new about your favorite sports by checking out this week’s episode of the Podcast.