New York (AFP) – Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open on Sunday, becoming the youngest player to climb to the world number one rankings and cementing his status as the poster boy for tennis’s new wave.
The 19-year-old pulled off his exhausted body for a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 victory over Norway’s Casper Ruud in the final.
Alcaraz, the first teenager to win first place, is the youngest men’s Grand Slam champion since his idol Rafael Nadal at the 2005 French Open.
In a landmark day, he was also the youngest New York champion since Pete Sampras in 1990.
“Now I’m enjoying the moment. I enjoy holding the cup in my hand. But, of course, I’m thirsting for more,” said Alcaraz.
“I want to be at the top for many weeks and I hope for many years. I will work hard again after this week, these two amazing weeks. I will fight for more of this.”
Despite being at the forefront of the modern tennis era, his Sunday performance also contained elements of a bygone era – he won 15 points from 21 shot and ball attempts.
Cup moment: Carlos Alcaraz
It was a stressful tournament for Alcaraz.
On Sunday, he set the record for most time spent on the court at a major tournament, passing the 23 hours and 21 minutes it took Kevin Anderson to finish runner-up at Wimbledon in 2018.
It took him over 23 hours and 40 minutes over the 13 hours it took him to play three players five in a row to reach the final.
He saved match point in his five-hour, 15-minute quarter-final win over Yannick Sener.
Nadal was quick to congratulate the player who is widely seen as his successor.
“Congratulations to carlosalcaraz on your first grand slam and for taking first place, which is the culmination of your great season. I am sure there will be many more,” the 22-time slam champion tweeted.
The US Open is the fifth Alcaraz Cup in 2022 after the Masters victories in Miami and Madrid as well as Rio and Barcelona.
In Madrid he announced himself as a serious threat to heavyweight players in the sport when he became the first man to defeat Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same clay court event.
Still in his teens, his career earnings are already close to $10 million.
“Carlos was born to play these tournaments,” said his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, the former top seed and French Open champion.
Rudd’s defeat, who was also contending for a world number one ranking, was his second in the four-slam final this year after Nadal lost him at the French Open.
“It’s incredibly impressive what he actually achieved as a teenager,” said Rudd, who will rise to number two in the world on Monday.
“He’s one of those few rare talents that shows up every now and then in the sport.”
With the roof closed, Arthur Ashe Stadium fans observed a poignant moment of silence on the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks before the final tentatively began.
– Sportsmanship Rod –
Fired Up: Carlos Alcaraz celebrates a point
Both men saved break points in their opening matches before Alcaraz earned the lone break from the first set to advance 3-1.
Rudd dropped the set but won in terms of sportsmanship when he summoned a double-bounce on himself in the eighth inning, ceding the point to the Spaniard.
Alcaraz served for love and one courtesy set of 13 winners versus six for the Norwegian winner.
The Spaniard, who reached the final with a record 2-0 win over Ruud, missed a break point 2-2 in the second set.
Rudd made him push, a 4-2 lead and then tied the final on the second set point after another careless shot from Alcaraz opened the field attractively for the Norwegian.
The Cars were 2-0 up in the third set before Rudd replied.
Very Close: Casper Rhode
The 23-year-old Norwegian scored two set-points in an 11-minute match in the 12th minute but was unable to convert as Alcaraz fired a superb successive shot.
Alcaraz made the most of his delay, racing to his first championship tiebreak success as Rod’s game suddenly collapsed.
The Spaniard sensed his opportunity, breaking 4-2 in the fourth set before counting his thumping kicks to 12 to advance 5-2.
Rudd stuck with the love, but Alcaraz captured a piece of history at a second point in the game before collapsing out onto the field in celebration after three hours and 23 minutes of play.
“At the moment Carlos is the best player in the world,” Rudd insisted.