It is telling of the 19-year-old’s determination and competitive nature that he has already set his sights on another Grand Slam victory in 2023.
Alcaraz’s win in New York after two weeks of grueling tennis – the youngster played three consecutive five-set marathon matches in the rounds leading up to the final – makes him the youngest player to win a grand slam since Rafael Nadal won the first of his 14 French games. Open titles in 2005.
Coming from Spain as well as natural talents on clay, the comparisons between Alcaraz and Nadal were inevitable. Despite idolizing Nadal growing up, Alcaraz has always brushed aside the nicknames of “the next Nadal” or “mini Nadal,” instead insisting he wants to create his own legacy.
On Sunday, he took the first – and perhaps the most difficult – step on that journey.
“It’s not always happy on the path, you have to suffer a lot, a lot of difficult moments in your life, so you have to overcome that. I worked very, very hard for this.
“I got the first one at 19, I hope to get another one next year, but I’ve had these two weeks a lot, so I know it’s very, very hard to get a grand slam, but I’ll work for another one. I’ll fight to get another one and so this is a target for me next year.”
With his win, Alcaraz also claims the number 1 world ranking for the first time, making him the youngest player in ATP history to do so. It’s a fitting way to end an astonishing breakthrough year for the young man from El Palmar in the Murcia region.
After winning his first ATP title in 2021, Alcaraz continued to thrive in 2022, winning four titles — including two Masters 1000 tournaments — before moving up the rankings from number 32 at the start of the year.
Sunday’s fight against Ruud is a match-up that tennis fans will likely see a lot more of in the future, with the Norwegian being tipped by many as a future grand slam champion.
After reaching the match point, a visibly emotional Alcaraz fell to the ground, although that could probably be due to exhaustion as much as emotion. Somehow he managed to find the strength to climb through the stands to reach his supporters’ box, sharing hugs with friends, family and his coach, former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero .
“This moment means a lot to me, it’s something I’ve been looking for since I started playing tennis,” Alcaraz said after his win. “I’ve worked very, very hard to get this trophy today, to become the best player in the world. For me, this feeling is indescribable, so this trophy means a lot to me.
“I thought about when I started playing tennis and, of course, my whole family, all my coaches during my life, everything about what I was a kid. When you’re a kid, you always dream about a lot of things and to be number 1 in to be the world and to become a champion of a grand slam were dreams for me.
“So right now it’s a dream come true for me to win this trophy, so I’m so happy.”
Nadal was one of the first to commend Alcaraz’s performance, with some taking his win in New York as the official passing of the torch for Spanish tennis.
“Congratulations @carlosalcaraz on your first Grand Slam and for the No. 1 ranking, which is the culmination of your first great season and I’m sure there will be many more to come!” the 22-time grand slam champion wrote on Twitter.
With the skill, will and determination on display at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday, it looks like Spain will continue to celebrate tennis glory for years to come.