This past Sunday, the US Open came to an end with the men’s singles draw, and a new champion was crowned in New York City. After a thrilling three-hour and 20-minute championship match, Carlos Alcaraz, the 19-year-old Spaniard, defeated Norway Casper Rudd 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-3, to capture his first Grand Slam trophy while also claiming the position of World No. 1 on the ATP Tour. This would make him the youngest player ever to sit atop the ATP rankings.
Throughout the past several months, Alcaraz has showcased some of his best tennis and has quickly made a name for himself on Tour. Prior to the US Open, Alcaraz dominated on clay and hard courts, winning four titles – two of which were Masters 1000 titles in Miami and Madrid.
During his run to the finals at the US Open, the Spaniard had three hard-fought matches to clinch a spot in the final round. During the round of 16, he defeated Marin Cilic of Croatia, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, to move onto the quarter-final and semi-final round where he defeated Italy’s Jannik Sinner and America’s Frances Tiafoe. The quarter-final match against Sinner was arguably Alcaraz’s toughest battle of the tournament. At the time the Spaniard had been down 2-1 in their head-to-head and had been ousted by the 11th seed in Wimbledon earlier this year. However, a determined Alcaraz was able to defeat the Italian in the last set (6-3 6-7(7) 6-7(0) 7-5 6-3), advancing to the semi-finals. In the semi-final round, Alcaraz faced rising-star Tiafoe, who put up an incredible fight, winning both the opening set and fourth set tiebreak. However, the newly crowned World No. 1 could not be stopped, forcing his way through to the championship match, winning the contest 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3.
In the final match, Alcaraz faced 23-year-old Rudd, an opponent he had met earlier this summer at the Madrid Open final and had been up 2-1 in their head-to-head. Rudd has also had a phenomenal run this past summer, winning the Swiss Open Gstaad and appearing in the Roland Garros final.
Throughout the match, Alcaraz was able to stay ahead of the Norwegian player with an incredible performance in the service department, delivering 14 aces and winning 74 per cent of his first serves. Alcaraz opened the match with a victory in the first set and carried that momentum into the crucial third set tiebreak. It was in the fourth set where Alcaraz was able to really top the No. 5 seed, delivering 8 aces and 17 winners in the set to close out the US Open victory.
During the on-court celebrations, Alcaraz commented on his dream of winning a Grand Slam title and becoming World No. 1, “this is something I dreamt of since I was a kid,” Alcaraz said. “To be No. 1 in the world, to be winner of a Grand Slam, it’s tough to talk right now. It’s something that I tried to achieve. All the hard work that I did with my family.”