Carlos Alcaraz won his first Grand Slam title on Sunday after beating Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the final of the US Open. With his first Major, the 19-year-old Spaniard has also become the youngest player to climb to World No 1 in the ATP rankings (since rankings put in place in 1973).
With the roof closed, the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd observed a moving moment’s silence on the 21st anniversary of the September 11 attacks before the final got off to a tentative start.
The Spaniard, who ended up spending nearly 24 hours on the court in New York, closed out the first set inside 50 minutes. However, the toll of playing three five-set matches on the way to the final seemed to have an impact on the youngster as Ruud bounced back in the second set. He broke Alcaraz twice to take the second set 6-2.
The duo began the third set exchanging breaks as Alcaraz, after missing out on a chance to go 3-0 up, slowly began clawing his way back into the match. Ruud was actually playing lights out tennis in the third set and even had two opportunities to win the set at 6-5 but Alcaraz served his way out of trouble to force a tie-break which he then won at a canter.
In the fourth set, Alcaraz took a huge step towards claiming the title when he broke Ruud to take a 4-2 lead. Ruud tried but couldn’t delay Alcaraz’s coronation as the Spaniard won his first Major.
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Alcaraz, the first teenager to claim the top ranking, is the youngest Grand Slam men’s champion since Rafael Nadal at the 2005 French Open after a performance which yielded 55 winners and 14 aces.
On a day of landmarks, he is also the youngest champion in New York since Pete Sampras in 1990.
It was a gruelling tournament for Alcaraz who claimed the record for most time spent on court at a single Grand Slam event, passing the 23 hours and 21 minutes it took Kevin Anderson to finish runner-up at Wimbledon in 2018.
Defeat for Ruud, who was also vying for the world number one ranking, was his second in a Slam final this year after he was routed by Nadal in the French Open.
He had his chances on a night when he out-Alcaraz’d Alcaraz on a few occasions, showing tremendous court coverage and coming up with outrageous winners. He was trailing 0-2 in the third and faced break points but turned things around.
The 23-year-old Norwegian had two set points in an 11-minute 12th game but was unable to convert as Alcaraz put away inch-perfect, back-to-back volleys.
Alcaraz made the most of his reprieve, racing through to his first tiebreak success of the tournament as Ruud’s game fell suddenly apart.
The Spaniard sensed his chance, breaking for 4-2 in the fourth set before taking his aces count to 12 to lead 5-2.
Ruud held to love but Alcaraz claimed his slice of history on a second match point before collapsing to the court in celebration.
With AFP inputs