Carlos Alcaraz wins his first Grand Slam title and claims world leadership
Carlos Alcaraz has a taste for Grand Slam success, having won his maiden title at the US Open and conquered the world number one rankings.
The 19-year-old defeated Casper Ruud 6-4 2-6 7-6(1) 6-4 to ensure he relegated his opponent to first place in the rankings and became the youngest man ever who made it to first place.
Alcaraz is more than a year younger than Lleyton Hewitt when he led the standings in 2001 and set the previous record.
The Australian’s sporting supremacy proved short-lived as first Roger Federer and then Rafael Nadal rose to the top of the game, but in the week that King Charles assumed sovereignty, tennis appears to have crowned a new king.
“At the moment I’m enjoying the moment,” said Alcaraz. “I enjoy holding the trophy in my hands.
“But of course I’m hungry for more. I want to be at the top for many, many weeks. I hope many years. I will work hard again after these incredible two weeks. I will fight to have more of it.”
It’s only been a year since Alcaraz burst into the limelight by reaching the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows, but his talent was already well known in the sport and he’s climbed the ladder at warp speed.
He has shown he is ready to win the biggest titles by lifting Masters trophies in Miami and Madrid, where he beat Nadal and Novak Djokovic back-to-back, and has proven to be a complete player despite his young age.
Alcaraz has also displayed remarkable physical stamina, recovering from three consecutive five-set matches, two of which ended after 2am.
He spent 23 hours and 40 minutes on the court over the two weeks, another record, and at times he seemed physically and mentally tired during the final but Ruud, who was badly beaten by Nadal in his first Slam final at the French Open , could not find the killer blow.
The Norwegian appeared to have turned the tide in the third set, scoring two set points at 5-6, but Alcaraz bravely netted to save them both times.
Ruud then played a terrible tiebreak and Alcaraz found his second wind to claim victory in the fourth.
“It’s crazy for me,” he said. “I never thought that I would achieve something like this at the age of 19. So everything went so fast. It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid, ever since I started playing tennis.”
Arriving in New York with some doubts after early losses at the ATP events in Montreal and Cincinnati, Alcaraz thanked his coach, former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero, and his team for helping him change his mindset.
“I lost a bit of joy in Montreal and Cincinnati,” he said. “I felt the pressure. I couldn’t smile on the pitch, which I do in every match, in every tournament.
“I came here to enjoy. Smile on the court, play tennis. Of course I really like playing tennis. I would say if I’m smiling, if I’m having fun out there, I’m playing my best level, my best tennis.”
Alcaraz was in tears in his chair after the game and revealed he was thinking of his mother and grandfather, who hadn’t traveled to the States.
Using the mantra ‘brain, heart, courage’, the teenager said: ‘These things mean a lot to me because my grandfather has told me (about them) since I was a child, in every game, in every tournament. I remember that in all the difficult moments.”
Thanks to his outstanding consistency, Ruud climbs to second place in the rankings and was able to take home the best hard court tournament of his career.
The 23-year-old said: “In the end, of course, it’s disappointing that it didn’t go my way. But that’s how it works.
“Carlos performed when he really needed it. In the third set in particular, it was just in my favour. I had some setpoints and couldn’t take care of them. He just played too well on those points.
“All credit goes to him. At the same time, I’m proud of the match and the two weeks. I left everything out on the pitch. I played phenomenal tennis over the two weeks, probably my best tennis on this surface. So in the end I’m very satisfied. Hopefully we’ll get another chance at a slam in the future.”
When asked what he needs to do to get his hands on the trophy next time, Ruud said with a smile: “I hope I’m not playing against a Spanish player. They know what they’re doing in the Slam finals.”
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https://www.newschainonline.com/sport/mens-sport/tennis/carlos-alcaraz-wins-maiden-grand-slam-title-and-claims-worlds-top-rank-291906 Carlos Alcaraz wins his first Grand Slam title and claims world leadership