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PostTennisdom's New #1: Carlos Alcaraz (Consoly Leon Arias, Spain / Canary, 09/13/22 6:36 am)
Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz has become the youngest number 1 in history, after winning the US Open.
Alcaraz meets all the conditions for a new era in world tennis, and even to accelerate the departure of players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. This was evident after he beat Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1) and 6-3, in three hours and 20 minutes.
This win not only gives him the greatest triumph of his career, but also has seasoned him in the rigor of the Grand Slam tournaments. The winner this year in Miami, Madrid, Barcelona and Rio, and last season in Umag, he has made the qualitative leap overcoming all the setbacks, with the match point he saved against Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals as the most dramatic moment.
After three hectic nights with many close calls, the final dawned calmer, but far from being comfortable.
At the beginning Alcaraz was looking for points and control of the match, without getting caught by the more tactical tennis of his opponent.
Somewhat passive, his Norwegian opponent, who missed three chances to break serve in the first set, was too often trapped in the backhand zone. Alcaraz obtained benefits from his open serve on the advantage side and took advantage of it to go to the net. He was and felt dominant.
Such a degree of conviction betrayed him in the second set, where he could have been 3-2 and serve. Ruud equalized the score.
It was the first time in history that two tennis players were playing for the world number 1 in a Grand Slam final.
For the 19-year-old Alcaraz, four years younger than his opponent, it was also his first major final. Not so for Ruud, who last spring lost the Roland Garros final against Nadal.
Part of the luck of the final was due to the two set points that Ruud had in the eleventh game of the third set. In both cases he neutralized them at the net. Ruud, who had reversed the course of the match, then collapsed in the tiebreaker, the first of the last five that Alcaraz took.
You have to go all the way back to 2003 to find the last Spaniard to win a Grand Slam title in the men's competition other than Rafael Nadal. This was Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz's coach, at Roland Garros.
Many individual and collective successes followed, but no one beyond the holder of 22 majors had been able to pull off the coup. As the great generation of our tennis aged, and even with Nadal in full force, as evidenced by his victories at the Australian Open and Roland Garros this year, there was the logical concern about his longevity.
A little less than a year ago Alcaraz played in the NextGen ATP Finals, the tournament that brings together the eight best young tennis players of the season. Although he had already won the ATP 250 in Umag, and with a dazzling performance in his first US Open, he was still a young man waiting to prove his potential.
In the fourth set of the US Open, Alcaraz made history in world tennis, becoming number 1, and of whom his compatriots feel very proud, convinced that after this victory many more will follow.
JE comments: It's appropriate that a youthful Spanish tennis phenom would emerge in the twilight of Nadal's career. Alcaraz is from El Palmar, a suburb of Murcia. This backwater of Spain rarely sees much glory. His fellow Murcianos must be very proud.