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The ‘Doughnut Dollies’ of World War II

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The ‘Doughnut Dollies’ of World War II

In one especially strange episode, Dorothy and Irene are observed climbing out of the basement of a destroyed house: “Aboveground, for anyone watching, the first sign of their resurrection would have been Dorothy’s boot kicking at a fallen slant of roof, which creaked open like a jaw, its nails like the great crooked teeth of a barracuda.” A house has collapsed on top of the two women, they’ve almost drowned in sewage from ruptured pipes, and rats have bitten their faces, but when they emerge into the light, their dialogue is disconcertingly lighthearted:

“Well, hell,” Irene said.
They laughed in spite of it all.
“Where’d everything go?” Dorothy asked.

Urrea has a weakness for melodramatic imagery: a volume of Shakespeare with a bullet lodged in its pages, a G.I. playing a burning piano in the smoldering ruins of a French village, a convoy of ambulances passing the Clubmobile, “sirens howling, with screams and groans coming from within the vehicles.” When the reader is forced to wonder about small elisions and inconsistencies, such as what Irene and Dorothy did about the facial rat bites (they aren’t mentioned again) or how they could hear groans over howling sirens, the characters themselves fade from view.

This problem becomes more acute when the terror of the war reaches its highest pitch, and the women are confronted with “a pair of signs, one pointing down to Weimar and the other uphill to someplace called Buchenwald.” Anyone who has visited a concentration camp will be willing to believe, as Irene tells Dorothy, that there’s “an atmosphere I can’t define,” even before the women know what they’re about to see. But we need to be absolutely enmeshed in a character’s consciousness to witness something on the order of Buchenwald through her eyes. Otherwise, the brutal catalog of the camp’s contents — a room full of suitcases and shoes, ovens, lampshades, emaciated “ghosts” in striped pajamas — evokes only our own familiar horror rather than Irene’s.

The novel is much stronger where it homes in on Irene’s experience. During the Battle of the Bulge, in January 1945, Irene and Dorothy take a bottle of Champagne to gunners operating a howitzer cannon. Dorothy is allowed to fire a shell, and then Irene gets a turn. “One of the gunners punched her arm. ‘Lady,’ he said, ‘you musta taken out 20 of ’em.’” Slowly, the reality of what it means to have pulled the lanyard dawns on Irene: “What’d I do?” she asks.

Like many veterans of war, Irene and Dorothy keep their memories to themselves after they return to civilian life. Their mutual silence is the engine that propels the novel’s satisfying conclusion, but it’s also an acknowledgment that the two women have joined an exclusive society. Even as Urrea tells the Clubmobilers’ story, he recognizes that some parts of their experience remain impossible to share with those who weren’t there.

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On one of their breaks from coffee and doughnut service in the Rapid City, while Irene is watching a plane fly overhead and dreaming of her fighter pilot, Dorothy begs her to pay attention to the two of them: “Irene, you are my family now. … I need you to understand what I’m saying. This is our story.”

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Galaxy Fire Their General Manager, Long a Target of Fan Anger

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Galaxy Fire Their General Manager, Long a Target of Fan Anger

When the world’s most famous soccer player, David Beckham, came to Major League Soccer in 2007, his arrival put the league on the map and affirmed the Los Angeles Galaxy’s status as the young league’s superteam. During Beckham’s tenure, the Galaxy played in three M.L.S. Cups, won two of them and exuded a Hollywood glamour that resonated around the world.

So it is startling to see that the Galaxy have the worst record in the league this season, with only two wins from 14 games. In response, and after missing the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, the team on Tuesday fired its longtime president, Chris Klein, who had also played with Beckham on the Galaxy.

Klein’s dismissal came after months of clamor from hard-core fans upset at the club’s direction. Several groups of supporters had called for Klein’s dismissal and threatened to boycott games; some already have done so. The Galaxy’s attendance is down about 10 percent from last season, a reflection of both the team’s cratering on-field results and simmering anger among its fans.

“I hope that there’s a resolution, and the supporters’ groups — who are really important to all of us, and to the players — find the right way, whatever the resolution is, for them to show up,” Galaxy Coach Greg Vanney told ESPN in February. “Because it’s probably not going to be ‘Chris out.’”

Now Chris is out. “We believe it is in the best interest of the club to make a change and begin a comprehensive process to seek new leadership that will return the club to the level that our fans and partners expect,” Dan Beckerman, the president of A.E.G., the team’s parent company, said in announcing Klein’s departure. Vanney will remain in his job as coach, the team said.

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The Galaxy’s last M.L.S. championship came in 2014, its third in four years, but the team has not won anything significant since then. Last year’s playoff appearance, its first in three seasons, ended in the conference semifinals.

The team that knocked out the Galaxy at that stage particularly rankles: It was Los Angeles F.C., the new club in town, which has been a member of the league only since 2018 but already has more honors in its trophy case (three) than the Galaxy have in the past decade.

L.A.F.C. has twice won the Supporters Shield, awarded to the team with the best regular-season record, and last season it won its first M.L.S. Cup championship. It also has advanced to the final of this year’s Concacaf Champions League, where it will meet Club León of Mexico in a home-and-home series this week for the regional club championship.

The Galaxy, meanwhile, are staggering. The team is a league-worst 2-9-3 with a minus-14 goal difference this season. Going into Wednesday night, the Galaxy have lost three straight league games without scoring a goal. After the last of those defeats, by 1-0 at home to Charlotte on Saturday, fans chanted, “We want better!”

While L.A.F.C.’s Dénis Bouanga leads M.L.S. with 10 goals, the Galaxy’s scoring leader, Dejan Joveljic, has two. Among the underachieving big-name Galaxy players are the Mexico striker Javier Hernández, known as Chicharito, and Douglas Costa of Brazil, who is scoreless in four appearances. Costa also faces arrest in Brazil on charges of nonpayment of child support, it was revealed this week.

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In the aftermath of Klein’s firing, supporters’ groups congratulated each other on the news and vowed to return to games.

Klein had other problems late last year: He was suspended in the off-season after M.L.S. found violations in a deal to sign the Argentine wing Cristian Pavón. The sanctions also limit the moves the Galaxy can make in the international transfer market this summer. That means rebuilding the Galaxy will be a tall order. Even with their fans back on board, a return to glory may take a while.

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An Infamous Hijacking, Revisited Through a Child’s Eyes

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An Infamous Hijacking, Revisited Through a Child’s Eyes

In September 1970, when she was 12, Martha Hodes and her sister were flying home alone to New York from Israel when their plane was hijacked by armed members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

It was redirected to an airstrip in the Jordanian desert, and joined by two others. Passengers were held hostage for six days before the hijackers released them unharmed, and blew up the planes.

It was a shocking event that drew headlines around the world. But Hodes and her family barely talked about it afterward. “I love school!” she wrote in her diary the first week back. “Everything’s great!”

Even decades later, Hodes, now a historian at New York University, brought it up only with close friends, and then only offhandedly.

“They all said something similar — that I spoke about it in a way that was very dismissive,” she recalled.

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Historians are in the business of digging stories out of the archives. But in “My Hijacking,” published June 6 by Harper, Hodes also goes digging through her own recollections. The book is the story of a dramatic and politically charged event, but also an exploration of trauma and memory, the relationship between our older and younger selves and the connection between personal experience and capital-H history.

That last one is a live question in the historical profession, where a growing number of scholars have written books that marry personal and family history with archival scholarship — sometimes upending both treasured family stories and traditional scholarly notions of truth and objectivity alike.

Not that Hodes, a scholar of 19th-century America, was an eager memoirist. After reading her first draft, her husband asked what she wanted readers to learn about her. She answered, only half-jokingly, “Nothing.”

The book has won largely admiring advance reviews (Publishers Weekly called it “poignant and perceptive”), and been excerpted in The New Yorker. But Hodes still expresses a bit of cool, self-appraising distance.

“Part of me wants to say, ‘I’m happy with my book! I love my book!,’” she said. But the word she uses is “satisfied.”

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“Writing about my own life, exposing my feelings and myself to readers, was difficult,” she said. “I’m still thinking about why I did that.”

Hodes, 64, grew up in an artistic, secular Jewish household in New York City, where both her parents were Martha Graham dancers. At the time of the hijacking, she and her sister Catherine, 13, had spent the summer in Tel Aviv, where their mother, who had remarried, had moved to help found the Batsheva Dance Company.

Hodes was a bookish child who dreamed of being a writer. She felt a kinship with Anne Frank, who had the same birthday. She also kept a diary, which she named “Claire,” a homage to Frank’s “Kitty.”

After college, she earned a masters in comparative religion at Harvard. But during a work-study job at the Schlesinger Library, she became fascinated with archives. “This was people’s lives, their letters and diaries,” she said. “Oh man, I loved that so much.”

In the Ph.D. program in history at Princeton, she gravitated toward challenging subjects and hard archival digging. Her first book, “White Women, Black Men,” published in 1997, looked at interracial sex in the South before the Civil War (a period, she argues, when such liaisons, while stigmatized, were not always violently punished). The evidence was so fragmentary — “shards and bones,” she wrote — that she sometimes wondered if she shouldn’t write it as fiction.

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“Mourning Lincoln,” published in 2015, presented the problem of archival abundance. It examined divergent reactions to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln: not the polished reminiscences published years later, but the raw immediate emotions of ordinary Americans — Black and white, Northern and Southern — mined from thousands of letters and diaries.

In her introduction, Hodes said that book (which won the Lincoln Prize) was partly sparked by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the intense collective response. She didn’t note it then, but that event also spurred her to revisit her memories of the hijacking.

She started by writing down everything she could remember. The memories were disjointed, confusing, emotionally flat. “But for the first time ever,” she writes, “I wanted to know more.”

But she didn’t really start working on it until 15 years later, after a conversation with her agent, Wendy Strothman, who asked about her next project. Hodes halfheartedly floated a few archival ideas. But then she said, “There’s also this book I know I have to write.”

“The whole atmosphere just changed,” Strothman, who had never heard about the hijacking before, recalled. “My jaw dropped.”

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Initially, Hodes said, she was curious about the event itself, which involved five planes in total. (While most hostages were released after arriving in Amman, more than three dozen were held until two weeks later, when the Jordanian Armed Forces launched a military operation aimed at driving out the Palestinian guerrilla factions who had established a state-within-a-state — an episode remembered by Palestinians as Black September.)

Her first research stop was the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, where she found the papers of a fellow hostage, a sociologist who had later interviewed Hodes and her sister for a scholarly article about the hijacking.

She also combed the archives of the airline, the State Department and the International Red Cross (which had acted as negotiators), and immersed herself in newspaper and television coverage. If Hodes’s turn toward memoir was surprising to friends, her diligence was not.

“She’s a really, really serious archival historian that takes the archives, that takes evidence and facts, really, really seriously,” said James Goodman, a historian at Rutgers-Newark. “She’s just not someone who would be comfortable playing fast and loose with them.”

Hodes also tracked down other former hostages, some of whom shared notes and documents. But the crucial source, she thought, would be her diary, which she had written in every day during the hijacking — and then threw into a box, never looking at it again.

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As a historian, Hodes was well aware that even first-person testimony written close to events, while gold to scholars, needs to be read critically. But as she researched, Hodes was startled by how unreliable her diary was.

She had matter-of-factly noted when they ran low on food. (“More bread & water. Oh dear!”) But she made no mention of the frightening things that she never forgot — like the night the hijackers wired the plane with explosives.

She also vividly remembered lighthearted (and true) details like jumping rope with the hijackers, or sitting under the wing with fellow hostages singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” changing the lyrics to “living on a jet plane.”

But there were many things she had suppressed entirely, including the fact that she had been afraid. It’s still an emotion she can’t directly recall.

I’m a historian, I know memory is unreliable,” she said. “But it was so fascinating to see it in my own documents, my own life.”

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Her diary, she realized, was profoundly shaped by trauma — less a record of events than a story she could tell and retell later, to reassure her parents and herself. “My diary,” she said, “was a crafted version of the story I could live with.”

At N.Y.U., Hodes teaches a seminar on history and autobiography, and the slippery relationship between them. Not that she wants to “go all postmodern on my profession.”

“The last thing you want to say to young historians is that nothing in the archives is reliable,” she said. “We have to tell stories.” And at a certain point, “we have to tell the story the documents leave us.”

Hodes also had to wrestle with a particularly fraught question: how to tell the hijackers’ side of the story?

She did not seek out anyone connected with the Popular Front, a Marxist-Leninist organization founded in 1967, which embraced hijackings, bombings and other forms of “revolutionary violence.”

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Hijackings were a way of seizing international attention. “When we hijack a plane, it has more effect than if we kill a hundred Israelis in battle,” the group’s founder, George Habash, told a German magazine in 1970.

To recreate the hijackers’ perspective, Hodes relied on published interviews, recordings and documents from the group’s online archives, as well as books by the hijackers (including two by Bassam Abu Sharif, who later became an adviser to Yasir Arafat).

“I felt like I had a lot of evidence for all the different sides” Hodes said.

In the book, she revisits the position papers the hijackers had made the hostages read, explaining their cause, and recalls the stories some told about being pushed out of their homes upon the founding of Israel, and growing up in refugee camps.

Hodes the historian recounts the political context dispassionately, noting how she and her sister, who grew up “extremely secular” and with little exposure to Zionism, differed in perspective from many fellow Jewish hostages, some of whom were Holocaust survivors.

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But when it comes to judgment, Hodes the memoirist sticks close to her empathetic child’s-eye view.

“Catherine and I just felt sorry for everyone,” she writes. When it came to the conflict, “We couldn’t think of a solution.”

That approach, Hodes acknowledged, may draw criticism. But the book, she emphasized, is just her story of the hijacking, not the story.

But in a way, she said, it’s also someone else’s story.

“Writing this was a journey of empathy for that little girl in the past,” she said. “Who is me, but is also not me.”

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Antes de que Carlos Alcaraz fuera impresionante, fue bastante bueno como para tener suerte

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Antes de que Carlos Alcaraz fuera impresionante, fue bastante bueno como para tener suerte

Carlos Alcaraz es tan bueno y tan joven, y gana tantas veces, que su éxito parece predeterminado.

Por supuesto, alguien así de rápido, con manos tan suaves como las de un artesano y un físico que lo coloca justo en la zona Ricitos de Oro de los grandes del tenis moderno —ni demasiado alto ni demasiado bajo—, se convertiría en el número uno del mundo más joven en los 50 años de historia del ranking de la Asociación de Tenistas Profesionales (ATP). También tiene buenos genes. Su padre fue tenista profesional a nivel nacional en España cuando era adolescente.

Así que esto estaba predeterminado para Alcaraz, el campeón de 20 años que llegó a París como el favorito inasequible para ganar el Abierto de Francia, ¿no es cierto?

Quizás no.

Como sucede tan a menudo en los deportes, y especialmente en el tenis, donde la exposición y el entrenamiento tempranos son esenciales, hubo un elemento de suerte que ayudó a crear al heredero deportivo de la troika conformada por Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer y Novak Djokovic y que ha gobernado el campeonato masculino durante la mayor parte de las últimas dos décadas.

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Esa suerte finalmente tomó la forma del logo de una compañía local de dulces, que adornaba las camisetas que Alcaraz usaba durante sus partidos desde que tenía 10 años. Todo fue gracias a encuentros fortuitos con Alfonso López Rueda, el tenista presidente de Postres Reina, una empresa española de postres y dulces conocida por sus flanes y yogures. El interés de López Rueda por Alcaraz y el apoyo que le permitió viajar por Europa y comenzar a competir contra chicos mayores en escenarios desconocidos puede ser una explicación de la forma en que Alcaraz, desde el comienzo de su corta carrera, ha mostrado casi siempre una especie de serenidad alegre, incluso cuando el escenario se hizo más grande y el centro de atención más intenso.

“Algunas personalidades son muy buenas para eso, algunas tienen que aprender”, dijo Paul Annacone, quien entrenó a los grandes jugadores Federer y Pete Sampras, entre otros. “Él realmente parece disfrutar del ambiente (ganar, perder, lo que sea), parece aceptarlo”.

Al parecer, la mayor fortuna que puede tener un aspirante a tenista es haber nacido de padres que jugaron al más alto nivel. Los rangos profesionales, especialmente en el lado de los tenistas hombres, son terribles con los nepo babies, como se les conoce a los hijos de figuras exitosas que quieren ingresar al rubro de los padres. Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Sebastian Korda, Taylor Fritz y Ben Shelton son descendientes de ex jugadores profesionales. Todos ellos tenían una raqueta en sus manos a una edad temprana y acceso casi ilimitado a alguien que sabía muy bien qué hacer con ella.

Para todos los demás, algo de suerte es clave.

Las habilidades que requiere el tenis profesional son muy especializadas, y el proceso largo y costoso de perfeccionarlas tiene que comenzar a una edad muy temprana. Pero el sistema de desarrollo de jugadores en la mayoría de los países está fracturado y, en el mejor de los casos, es regido por la casualidad, con programas escolares que son en su mayoría limitados. O una familia decide conscientemente exponer a un niño pequeño al tenis, o el niño no juega, al menos no en serio.

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Así que no sorprende que tantas de las historias de creación en el tenis profesional parezcan involucrar una sucesión de eventos fortuitos e inconexos.

Frances Tiafoe probablemente no terminaría como semifinalista de Grand Slam si su padre, un inmigrante de Sierra Leona, se convertía en encargado de mantenimiento en un parque de oficinas en lugar de en un club de tenis local.

Novak Djokovic tuvo la suerte de conocer a Jelena Gencic, una de las mejores entrenadoras de Serbia, cuando tenía 6 años y ella dirigía un entrenamiento en las canchas cerca del restaurante de sus padres en Kopaonik, en las montañas serbias cerca de Montenegro.

Arthur Ashe estaba viajando por Camerún en 1971 cuando vio a un escolar de 11 años con talento en bruto para explotar. Llamó a su amigo Philippe Chatrier de la Federación Francesa de Tenis y le dijo que fuera a echar un vistazo. Ese chico era Yannick Noah, el último francés en ganar el Abierto de Francia.

Al igual que con los demás, los dones y habilidades sobrenaturales de Alcaraz jugaron el papel más importante en su buena fortuna. Cuando tuvo la oportunidad de impresionar, lo hizo, pero antes la suerte tuvo que brindarle una oportunidad.

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La historia de esa oportunidad comienza con la decisión del abuelo de Alcaraz hace décadas de incorporar canchas de tenis y una piscina en un club de caza en El Palmar, un suburbio de la ciudad de Murcia. Hubiera sido más barato poner todas las canchas duras, pero a los españoles les encantan las de la arcilla roja, también llamada tierra batida. Entonces el abuelo Alcaraz (otro Carlos) se aseguró de incluir esas canchas en las instalaciones.

Ahora avancemos hasta hace una decena de años. López Rueda, loco por el tenis, es el director ejecutivo de Postres Reina, con sede en Caravaca de la Cruz. Pero a López Rueda no solo le gusta el tenis; le gusta jugar al tenis en arcilla roja. Vive en la misma región que el clan Alcaraz, y las mejores y más accesibles canchas de tierra batida para él están en un club en El Palmar, así que juega allí, comentó José Lag, ejecutivo de Postres Reina desde hace mucho tiempo y amigo de la familia Alcaraz, quien habló en nombre de su jefe, López Rueda.

En el club se hizo amigo del padre de Alcaraz y jugó como compañero de dobles de su tío. Asimismo, el hijo de López Rueda, que es tres años mayor que Alcaraz, contó con el mismo entrenador, Kiko Navarro, que no paraba de delirar con el talento de Carlitos. Un día, López Rueda accedió a ver jugar al niño y no se parecía a nada que hubiera visto antes. Carlitos lo tenía todo, pero los recursos de su familia eran limitados. Su padre era entrenador de tenis y administrador del club, y su madre estaba ocupada criando al niño y a sus hermanos menores.

López Rueda accedió a prestarle a la familia 2000 euros para viajar a un torneo, pero luego empezó a pensar en grande y decidió involucrar a su empresa para apoyar a este jovencito local que ya era capaz de vencer a competidores más altos, más fuertes y mayores.

Postres Reina había apoyado durante mucho tiempo a los equipos locales de baloncesto y fútbol, ​​pero el tenis era el deporte favorito de López Rueda y la empresa nunca había patrocinado a un atleta individual. Alcaraz se convirtió en el primero, luciendo el logo de la empresa en sus camisetas.

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El apoyo de la compañía, que duró toda la adolescencia de Alcaraz, le permitió seguir accediendo a los mejores entrenadores de su región y viajar por toda Europa para disputar los torneos más competitivos.

“No se hizo con un interés publicitario”, dijo Lag. “Era solo para ayudarlo. Nunca pensamos que sería el número uno”.

Al ver el éxito de Alcaraz, IMG, el conglomerado de deportes y entretenimiento, lo fichó a los 13 años, brindándole aún más acceso, especialmente a su actual entrenador, el exnúmero uno del mundo Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Existe una buena posibilidad de que Alcaraz se hubiera convertido eventualmente en un jugador de primer nivel si López Rueda nunca lo hubiera visto. La Real Federación Española de Tenis, que tiene una de las mejores fuentes de desarrollo de talentos del mundo, probablemente se habría enterado de él en poco tiempo.

Max Eisenbud, director de tenis de IMG, dijo que en cualquier historia de éxito en el tenis, el ingrediente más importante es una familia sólida dispuesta a tener una visión a largo plazo hacia el éxito de un chico.

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“Esa es la receta secreta”, dijo Eisenbud durante una entrevista reciente, pero reconoció que la asistencia financiera para una familia que la necesita ciertamente puede ayudar.

Cuando un jugador avanza tan rápido como Alcaraz, pasando de estar fuera del top 100 en mayo de 2021 al número uno solo 16 meses después, se puede atribuir un papel en el resultado a cada detalle de su desarrollo.

Los compañeros de Alcaraz han visto con asombro cómo ha elevado su nivel de juego en cada torneo, en una era en la que el foco de atención constante tortura a muchos de ellos. Durante los primeros meses de Alcaraz desafiando los peldaños más altos de la gira, Alexander Zverev se maravilló de su habilidad para jugar “simplemente por diversión”.

Alcaraz dijo que sin importar lo que la gente viera, acostumbrarse a los ambientes cada vez más estridentes y llenos de presión tomó algún tiempo, pero aprendió rápido. Una paliza de Nadal en Madrid hace dos años ayudó, pero su mentalidad nunca cambió.

“Siempre quise jugar en los grandes estadios”, dijo. Y ha parecido que realmente fue así.

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Para Alcaraz, el tenis es principalmente una alegría, desde su primera victoria en un torneo de Grand Slam en una cancha trasera en el Abierto de Australia en febrero de 2021, hasta sus victorias consecutivas sobre Nadal y Djokovic en el Abierto de Madrid en 2022, a su enfrentamiento en la semifinal contra Tiafoe en el Abierto de Estados Unidos en septiembre pasado frente a 23.000 fanáticos y con Michelle Obama sentada en la primera fila, hasta su triunfo en la final dos días después.

¿Cómo es posible? Allen Fox, campeón de la División I y cuartofinalista de Wimbledon en 1965, que más tarde se convirtió en uno de los principales psicólogos deportivos, utilizó el término que utilizan los profesionales cuando no existe una explicación racional. Describió a Alcaraz como un “genio” y una “rareza genética”.

“La única forma en que pierde es cuando falta”, dijo Fox. “Juega su mismo juego de alto riesgo y nunca quita el pie del acelerador”.

Matthew Futterman es un periodista deportivo con larga experiencia y autor de dos libros, Running to the Edge: A Band of Misfits and the Guru Who Unlocked the Secrets of Speed y Players: How Sports Became a Business.


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