Carlos Alcaraz is one win away from history…
The 18-year-old Spanish tennis player ended the 10-match tournament winning streak of defending champion Hubert Hurkacz to advance to the final at the Miami Open on Friday evening to reach his first ATP Masters 1000.
With his 7-6(5), 7-6(2) victory, Alcaraz has reached the biggest final of his young career, going one better than his semifinal run at Indian Wells two weeks ago.
“I have a lot of emotions right now. It’s something that you dream of when you are a child,” said Alcaraz, who is one win away from becoming the youngest champion in the tournament’s 37-year history. “It’s really good to be in the final here in Miami. I love playing here. The crowd is amazing. I’m going to approach the final like a first round, trying to mask the nerves. I’m going to enjoy it, it’s going to be a great final.”
Alcaraz trailed 3/5 in the opening-set tiebreak, but repeated his heroics from Thursday’s quarterfinal win against Miomir Kecmanovic by winning four straight points to close it out.
After erasing two break points at 5-all in the second set — taking his tournament total to 15 of 17 break points saved — Alcaraz controlled the second tie-break with help from some untimely Hurkacz errors. A drop shot at 5/2 set up match point, and a dipping pass attempt forced a volley into the net to close out the match.
“I couldn’t return his serves, but I knew that the match was going to be long sets like it was, 7-6, 7-6,” said Alcaraz, who dropped deep with his return positioning, in contrast to his previous matches. “At the beginning, I saw that I couldn’t return. I thought we were going to play a lot of tiebreaks… A little bit different [than my previous matches] with his serve, but it’s a great win for me.”
Hurkacz tallied one more winner than Alcaraz on the night, 23 to 22, but gave up that advantage by committing 37 unforced errors in the match. Early in the second set, the frustrated Pole shouted to his coach: “I can’t do my backhand.”
But this was far from a standard matchup of baseline blasts as both men attacked the net with regularity, a total of 47 times between them, with both posting a 70 per cent win rate. Alcaraz also hit 16 drop shots in the match, winning 11 of those points (69 per cent).
In a match that did not see a break of serve, both men saved three break points, with each coming up clutch to fight off a pair when serving at 5-all. After failing to convert late in the first, Alcaraz provided a moment of good sportsmanship by offering to replay a point as he served at 5-6, 30/0 after an incorrect “not up” call. Hurkacz applauded the gesture but was not able to get a look in the service game.
“Definitely he’s playing insane for his age,” Hurkacz said following the match. “It’s really incredible how he plays, how he competes… He has an amazing career in front of him. It’s crazy how good he plays.”
By reaching the final, Alcaraz moves up to third place in the ATP Race to Turin, with an opportunity to move up to second with the title. The World No. 16 improves to 6-6 against the Top 10, having won the opening set in all six of his victories and lost the opener in all six defeats
He’ll face Casper Ruud in the Sunday’s final following his 6-4, 6-1 win over Francisco Cerundolo.
Alcaraz is hoping to become the third-youngest man to win a title at this level, behind only Michael Chang (1990, Toronto) and Rafael Nadal (2005, Monte Carlo). He’s also the second-youngest finalist in Miami history, behind only Nadal, who lost the 2005 final to Roger Federer.
Alcaraz is projected to move up to a career-high of No. 12 in the ATP Rankings with his final run, and will reach No. 11 with the title.