Spanish teen makes history with US Open title win
Carlos Alcaraz has etched his name into the history books after the 19-year-old Spaniard defeated Norwegian rival Casper Ruud to win a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, also becoming the youngest ever men’s world number one.
Third seed Alcaraz beat the fifth-seeded Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 at Flushing Meadows on Sunday to cement his status as his sport’s brightest young star.
In ascending to the summit of the ATP ratings while still a teenager, Alcaraz has achieved a feat that not even the likes of illustrious countryman Rafael Nadal or the great Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic have managed.
Alcaraz has reached the landmark aged 19 years and 130 days, with the previous record for the youngest men’s number one belonging to Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, who was aged 20 years and 268 days when he topped the charts.
Russia’s Marat Safin is third on the all-time list, rising to the summit aged 20 years and 10 months back in November of 2000.
Sunday’s victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium encapsulated the relentless energy that Alcaraz brings to the court, harrying and hustling Ruud but producing some sublime and audacious shot-making.
“I’m hungry for more. I want to be in the top for many, many weeks. Hope many years,” said Alcaraz, who had entered the final on the back of three successive five-set contests in New York.
“I’m going to work hard again after this week, this amazing two weeks. I’m going to fight for have more of this.”
Alcaraz becomes the youngest man to win a major title since Nadal won the 2005 French Open at the age of 19, while he is the youngest to be crowned king in New York since Pete Sampras clinched the title at the age of 19 years and 28 days old back in 1990.
Ruud, 23, had also entered the clash knowing that victory would hand him a first Grand Slam and the world number one rating, having seen off Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the semifinals.
In the end, the Norwegian met his match against the all-action Alcaraz and was left to contemplate a second major final defeat of 2022 after also falling short at the French Open against Nadal.
“He’s one of these few rare talents that comes up every now and then in sports. That’s what it seems like,” Ruud said of Alcaraz.
“Let’s see how his career develops, but it’s going all in the right direction.”
Alcaraz has made no secret of his desire for success and self-belief, and few would bet against him adding to his New York title as Spain welcomes a successor to Nadal as the 22-time Grand Slam champion contemplates the twilight of his career.
Ruud’s run to the final in Flushing Meadows means he will rise to the world number two spot, while Russia’s Daniil Medvedev – who had entered this year’s US Open as defending champion and world number one but suffered a fourth-round exit at the hands of Nick Kyrgios – is set to slip to fourth, one place behind Nadal.