Carlos Alcaraz’s stunning US Open victory marked another milestone in a story that is expected to end with “30 Grand Slam titles.”
The 19-year-old defeated Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 on Sunday in New York, becoming the youngest winner of a men’s major since Rafael Nadal at the 2005 French Open.
He is now the world’s youngest number one, and the youngest champion in New York since Pete Sampras in 1990.
The humble, muscular star from the small Murcian town of El Palmar in Spain’s south-east is no stranger to breaking records, and this year will be no exception.
Five of his six career titles have come this year, and his on-court earnings have already surpassed $10 million.
In July, he became the youngest man to enter the world top five since 2005.
In May, Alcaraz became the only man in history to defeat both Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same clay-court event in Madrid.
For good measure, he did it on consecutive days on his way to the title.
“Carlos’ intensity and speed are rare to see,” Rafael’s uncle and former longtime coach Toni Nadal said.
“His game is similar to Rafa’s in that he never gives up until the last ball and has that characteristic intensity.”
Nadal was 19 when he won the first of his record 22 Grand Slam titles in 2005 at Roland Garros.
However, the 36-year-old has pleaded with fans not to put too much pressure on the adolescent by making sweeping comparisons.
“I forgot what I was like at 19,” Nadal admitted. “All we can do is enjoy the career of an exceptional player like Carlos.”
“Winning 25 Grand Slams would be fantastic for both him and our country.” But let him enjoy his profession.”
Making comparisons is unavoidable, despite Nadal’s reluctance.
Nadal won the first of his 92 titles at Sopot at the age of 18 in 2004.
Alcaraz, who learned the game at his father’s tennis academy, was also 18 when he won his first ATP title in Umag in 2021.
Both men are fiercely protective of their personal lives, enjoy fervent fan support, and base their games on steely defence and thrilling, flamboyant attack.
In 2012, Nadal famously battled Djokovic in a five-hour and 53-minute Australian Open final.
Four years prior, he had won his first Wimbledon title in a four-hour, 48-minute epic against Roger Federer in what was widely regarded as the greatest Grand Slam final of all time.
Fast forward to the 2022 US Open, and Alcaraz had to battle three five-setters and more than 13 hours to reach the final on Sunday.
He saved a match point in his five-hour 15-minute quarter-final against Jannik Sinner.
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