Carlos Alcaraz wins the US Open and becomes number 1 in the world

Carlos Alcaraz wins the US Open and becomes number 1 in the world

Carlos Alcaraz wins the US Open and becomes number 1 in the world

Carlos Alcaraz lifts the US Open winner's cup after his victory over Casper Ruud, in the final, September 11, 2022, in New York.

This story, no one had written it. At least not so fast. If his exponential trajectory left little doubt about his ability to reign in the near future, few were those who had imagined him, a fortnight ago, with the cape of the new master of the tennis planet on his shoulders at the end of New York. match. He himself didn’t know it was impossible, so he did it.

On Sunday 11 September Carlos Alcaraz definitively proved that the adjective “premature” was foreign to him by beating the Norwegian Casper Ruud in the final of the US Open (6-4, 2-6, 7-6 [7-1], 6-3). The first Grand Slam title in a career expected to be as insatiable as his carnivorous smile. At 19 years and four months he became, as a bonus, the youngest world number 1 in history, ousting Australian Lleyton Hewitt, crowned at 20 years and eight months (in 2001).

The scenario was unprecedented: never had a Grand Slam final pitted two players against each other in the position to open their Grand Slam record and sit on the world throne in the process. For both the Spaniard and the 23-year-old Norwegian, the weight of history weighed heavily on their shoulders as they entered the Arthur-Ashe court topped with his roof. Alcaraz’s legs too.

After winning the first set, Juan Carlos Ferrero’s protege suddenly became less precise, his explosiveness remained in the locker room. On the other side of the net, Casper Ruud put his plan into action: to keep the opponent as far away as possible, playing with depth and rigor. In the third set, the youngest was often on a tightrope, revealing his frustration where his opponent was just phlegm. The Norwegian’s game will probably never lift the crowd, even though on Sunday it was often he who had the last word on the flashiest points.

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Alcaraz found his zest in the third set tiebreaker, and he wasn’t going to walk away from it. “It was not the time to be tired, when you get to the end of a tournament you have to leave everything you have left on the pitch”, the winner reacts, still 141And at the beginning of 2021, in front of 23,000 long-won spectators.

Intoxicating tomorrow

Not long ago there were those who did not give much of the world of tomorrow, promising an era threatened by boredom, when the three heroes of the beginning of 21And century would have retired. In the shadow of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, tennis would be nothing more than a bland and banal spectacle. Disillusioned teachers have buried a sport that was supposedly no longer in tune with the canons of modernity, mainly the fault of the interminable matches.

Ironically, this edition of the US Open will have given promise on both counts. The New York Fortnight will have shown that we can still fill the stadiums to the brim, even at the end of the evening, even after a myriad of matches in five sets, without spectators verging on overdosing. Just as the first roles played by a new generation of talent, led by an uninhibited younger, heralded a heady tomorrow. Tennis is fine, thanks for him.

Tennis can especially thank Carlos Alcaraz. The Spaniard had already delivered, on the night between Wednesday and Thursday, the best match of the fortnight, alongside the Italian Jannik Sinner (13And world), a little older than him (21 years old). A quarter-final won by the Spaniard in the last hour ever recorded at the US Open (2:50), after the second longest match in the history of the tournament. At 5:15 am the brazen hit the ball with maximum intensity, distributing blows, or rather assaults, as fast as they were ferocious. The duel impressed and carries the seeds of a rivalry that could well be established in the long term.

Read also: Article reserved for our members Roland-Garros: Carlos Alcaraz, the new conqueror of world tennis

The face of a teenager, the nerves of an old veteran

Carlos Alcaraz on the fly, in the final of the US Open, 11 September 2022, in New York.

Against Marin Cilic already in eighth, Alcaraz had discarded five sets. The boy from El Palmar (province of Murcia) still has the face of a teenager but the nerves of an old veteran and the fire in his arms. After his three straight fights completed at 1:28 pm, he was “a little tired, sure, but just very happy”. “I think back to the child I was ten years ago who dreamed of the moment I am living. You have to pursue your dreams. Hard work is always rewarded. “ added the Spaniard after winning the semi-final against tournament revelation American Frances Tiafoe, 24, who defeated Nadal in eighth place.

The child learns fast, very fast. A year ago, 55 moreAnd World Cup at the dawn of his first US Open, the lean-armed teenager had to throw in the towel in the quarter-finals after a series of marathon games. “Last year, I had only played three Grand Slams before the US Open and only one game in five sets, he justified on the eve of the final. Today I am more ready, physically and mentally. Since this US Open, there have been twelve months of intense work, indoors and on the court. But I’d say the key is primarily mental. “

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Former world number 1 Justine Henin she said she was amazed by this dizzying climb. “In the tournaments that preceded Roland-Garros, he took us to another planet, with his exceptional sequence [demi-finale à Indian Wells, titres à Miami, Barcelone et Madrid], we didn’t know where it would stop “, he said to the Belgian World this week. The Spaniard was finally stopped at Roland-Garros (defeat in the quarter-finals) when everyone already imagined him starting with the Cup of Musketeers under his arm. “It’s normal, he still had things to learn. But I wasn’t worried about what would happen … ” Henin continued.

game chameleon

Early 2020, “Carlitos” it was still playing in the secondary circuit. He was 16, the posters of Nadal hung on the walls of his room and indicated 490And ATP ranking. Unlike the Majorcan, who crushed the competition from an early age, Alcaraz took longer to develop his talent. The frail teenager, on the other hand, had a much more complete technical palette than his older peer, but with so many options in his racket, he didn’t always know how to choose the right one at the right time.

Since then he has become this chameleon of the game capable of adapting his tennis to any type of opponent, and he has shaken the times that pass, often marrying those of his idol. He has already amassed 50 wins and five titles since the start of the season. In New York, for two weeks, his tennis with panache electrified an audience often more absorbed by his hot dog or that of the neighbor: an explosive game forward, a great shot from the baseline, he climbs to the net and the depreciation as a lethal weapon.

Read also: US Open: three men for a world throne

Not long ago, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, the German Alexander Zverev or the Russian Andrey Rublev were announced as heirs of the Holy Trinity Federer-Nadal-Djokovic. All have so far failed to win the Grail. Carlos Alcaraz just grilled their kindness. Or rather, to use the words of Zverev, overwhelmed by the Spaniard in Madrid in May, by theirs “kick ass”.

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