Carlos Alcaraz Wins US Open Title to Become Youngest Man to Lead ATP Rankings

Carlos Alcaraz has doubled up on his significant achievements…

The 19-year-old Spanish tennis player defeated Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 to claim his first Grand Slam title at the US Open, in his first appearance in a Grand Slam final no less.

Carlos AlcarazIn the process, Alcaraz is now the No. 1 player in men’s tennis.

Alcaraz used his combination of moxie and maturity to Ruud for the trophy at Flushing Meadows and become the youngest man to lead the ATP rankings.

“Well, this is something that I dreamed of since I was a kid,” said Alcaraz, whom folks of a certain age might still consider a kid. “It’s something I worked really, really hard [for]. It’s tough to talk right now. A lot of emotions.”

Appearing in his eighth major tournament and second at Flushing Meadows, Alcaraz has attracted plenty of attention as someone considered the next big thing in men’s tennis.

He’s the youngest man to win a major title since Rafael Nadal was the same age at the 2005 French Open, and the youngest at the US Open since 19-year-old Pete Sampras in 1990.

“He’s one of these few rare talents that comes up every now and then in sports. That’s what it seems like,” said Ruud, a 23-year-old from Norway. “Let’s see how his career develops, but it’s going all in the right direction.”

Alcaraz was serenaded by choruses of “Ole, Ole, Ole! Carlos!” that reverberated off the closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium — and he often motioned to the supportive spectators to get louder.

He only briefly showed signs of fatigue from having to get through three consecutive five-setters to reach the title match, something no one had done in New York in 30 years. He spent a total of 23 hours, 40 minutes on court in the tournament, the most by any men’s player during any one major tournament since the start of 2000.

Alcaraz went five sets against 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic in the fourth round, ending at 2:23 a.m. Tuesday; against Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals, a 5-hour, 15-minute thriller that ended at 2:50 a.m. Friday after Alcaraz needed to save a match point; and against Frances Tiafoe in the semifinals.

“You have to give everything on court. You have to give everything you have inside. I worked really, really hard to earn it,” Alcaraz said after the final. “It’s not time to be tired.”

This was not a stroll to the finish, though.

Alcaraz dropped the second set and faced a pair of set points while down 6-5 in the third. But he erased each of those point-from-the-set opportunities for Ruud with the sorts of quick-reflex, soft-hand volleys he repeatedly displayed. And with help from a series of shanked shots by a tight-looking Ruud in the ensuing tiebreaker, Alcaraz surged to the end of that set.

“He just played too good on those points. We’ve seen it many times before: He steps up when he needs to,” Ruud said. ‘When it’s close, he pulls out great shots.”

One break in the fourth was all it took for Alcaraz to seal the victory in the only Grand Slam final between two players seeking both a first major championship and the top spot in the ATP’s computerized rankings, which date to 1973.

The winner was guaranteed to be first in Monday’s rankings; the loser was guaranteed to be second.

“Both Carlos and I, we knew what we were playing for. We knew what was at stake,” Ruud said. “I think it’s fitting. I’m disappointed, of course, that I’m not No. 1, but No. 2 is not too bad, either.”

He is now 0-2 in Slam finals after being runner-up to Nadal at the French Open in June.

Ruud stood way back near the wall to return serve, but also during the course of points, much more so than Alcaraz, who attacked when he could. Alcaraz went after Ruud’s weaker side, the backhand, and found success that way, especially while serving.

If nothing else, Ruud gets the sportsmanship award for conceding a point he knew he didn’t deserve. It came while he was trailing 4-3 in the first set; he raced forward to a short ball that bounced twice before Ruud’s racket touched it.

Play continued, and Alcaraz hesitated and then flubbed his response. But Ruud told the chair umpire what had happened, giving the point to Alcaraz, who gave his foe a thumbs-up and applauded right along with the spectators to acknowledge the move.

Alcaraz certainly seems to be a rare talent, possessing an enviable all-court game, a blend of groundstroke power with a willingness to push forward and close points with his volleying ability. He won 34 of 45 points when he went to the net Sunday. He is a threat while serving — he delivered 14 aces at up to 128 mph on Sunday — and returning, earning 11 break points, converting three.

Alcaraz, Ruud said, showed “incredible fighting spirit and will to win.”

Make no mistake: Ruud is no slouch, either. There’s a reason he is the youngest man since Nadal to get to two major finals in one season and managed to win a 55-shot point, the longest of the tournament, in the semifinals Friday.

But this was Alcaraz’s time to shine under the lights.

For context on the rankings, it is helpful to know that Novak Djokovic did not play at the US Open or Australian Open this year, unable to enter those countries because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, and did not receive any ranking boost for his Wimbledon championship because no points were on offer for anyone after the All England Club banned athletes from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is significant that Alcaraz is the first male teenager at No. 1. No one else did it. Not Nadal, not Djokovic, not Federer, not Sampras. No one.

When one last service winner glanced off Ruud’s frame, Alcaraz dropped to his back on the court, then rolled over onto his stomach, covering his face with his hands. Then he went into the stands for hugs with his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former No. 1 himself who won the French Open in 2003 and reached the final of that year’s US Open, and others, crying all the while.

You get to No. 1 for the first time only once. You win a first Grand Slam title only once. Many folks expect Alcaraz to be celebrating these sorts of feats for years to come.

Carlos Alcaraz Defeats Jenson Brooksby to Reach US Open Fourth Round for Second Straight Year

Carlos Alcaraz continues making his mark in the tennis world…

The 19-year-old Spanish tennis player, the No. 3 seed at this year’s US Open, defeated unseeded Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday, advancing to the fourth round.

Carlos AlcarazAlcaraz became the youngest man to reach the US Open quarterfinal last year and has created momentum for another potential run there this summer.On Saturday, he became the youngest man since Pete Sampras in 1989 and 1990 to reach the fourth round in consecutive Opens.

Alcaraz was down 3-0 in the third set until he won six straight games to take off and top Brooksby. Brooksby was 20 last year when he went to the fourth round, where Novak Djokovic eliminated him in four sets.

Alcaraz, always hustling and on the move, appeared to blow out a pair of sneakers and needed a change of shoes during the match. He gave away another pair of sneakers to fans in celebration of the victory.

“I played really, really well,” he said after the match inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. “I knew that it was going to be a tough match. I’m really happy with my performance.”

Up a break in the second game, Brooksby gave the crowd a thrill when he fell backward during a 17-shot rally but incredibly recovered to win the point. He added to the crowd’s elation when he broke the third seed to love in the next game.

The party would be short-lived, however, as Alcaraz won the next six games. He will next play Marin Cilic.

Rafael Nadal Surpasses Martina Navratilova on All-Time Grand Slam Match Victories List

Rafael Nadal is moving on up…

The 36-year-old Spanish professional tennis player has advanced to the third round of Wimbledon for the 11th time after defeating Ricardas Berankis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday.

Rafael NadalIt was Nadal’s 307th Grand Slam match win, advancing him past Martina Navratilova in fourth place on the all-time list, behind Roger Federer (369), Serena Williams (365) and Novak Djokovic (330).

“Not the best start honestly,” Nadal said of Thursday’s victory. “I finished playing well. The fourth set has been the level of tennis for me, important improvement. The rest of the things, I have room to improve.”

Nadal is looking for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title, and third Wimbledon trophy.

Rafael Nadal Defeats Casper Ruud to Claim 14th French Open Title

Rafael Nadal has officially reclaimed his King of Clay title…

The 36-year-old Spanish tennis star overwhelmed Casper Ruud in straight sets on Sunday to win his record-extending 14th French Open championship and 22nd Grand Slam title.

Rafael NadalBut he revealed after the match that he needed an injection to his ailing left foot just to be able to play.

Nadal told Eurosport after his 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory that he received an injection to numb his foot for Sunday’s final.

“The preparation was not ideal,” he said. “I had a stress fracture of the rib, then I have the foot [pain], which stays there all the time. I had my doctor here with me — I don’t know how to say in English what we did. We played with no feeling on the foot, we played with an injection in the nerve so the foot was asleep — that’s why I was able to play.”

During the trophy ceremony, Nadal thanked his family and support team for helping him, because otherwise, he would have needed to “retire much before.”

“I don’t know what can happen in the future,” Nadal told the crowd, “but I’m going to keep fighting to try to keep going.”

Nadal revealed during his media availability after the match that he’d been undergoing frequent injections into a nerve throughout the past two weeks at Roland Garros, serving to numb the pain in his foot caused by Mueller-Weiss syndrome. It is not a long-term solution to the chronic foot problem, and he is expected to visit a specialist next week to undergo a fresh procedure — a radiofrequency nerve ablation.

The success of that procedure will dictate whether he plays Wimbledon or not.

“I’m going to be in Wimbledon if my body is ready to be in Wimbledon,” Nadal said. “That’s it. Wimbledon is not a tournament that I want to miss. I think nobody want to miss Wimbledon. I love Wimbledon.”

He said if the procedure doesn’t work, he’ll have to decide if he’s ready to undergo a major surgery with no guarantee that it will be successful and might require a prolonged recovery time.

But he did confirm he would not go through the whole process of getting injections daily to get him through Wimbledon.

“Wimbledon is a priority, always [has] been a priority. If I am able to play with anti-inflammatories? Yes. To play with anaesthetic injections? No. I don’t want to put myself in that position again. Can happen once, but no, is not a philosophy of life that I want to follow.

“So let’s see. I am always a positive guy, and I always expect things going the right way. So let’s be confident, and let’s be positive. Then let’s see what’s going on.”

Nadal’s victory came two days after his 36th birthday and made him the oldest title winner in the history of the clay-court tournament. The oldest champion in tournament history had been Andres Gimeno, who was 34 when he won in 1972.

Ruud led 3-1 in the second set, a deficit that spurred Nadal to raise his level — he took the last 11 games. Nadal’s six games lost Sunday are tied for his second fewest in a major final. He has won six major finals in which he has conceded fewer than 10 games, breaking a tie with Richard Sears for the most by any man in tennis history.

Given his age, and of more concern, the chronic pain in his left foot that has been an off-and-on problem for years, Nadal has said repeatedly in recent days that he can never be sure whether each match at Court Philippe Chatrier might be his last.

He played crisply and cleanly, accumulating more than twice as many winners as Ruud, 37 to 16. Nadal also committed fewer unforced errors, making just 16 to Ruud’s 26.

When it ended with a down-the-line backhand from Nadal, he chucked his racket to the red clay he loves so much and covered his face with the taped-up fingers on both of his hands.

The Spanish star’s first triumph in Paris came in 2005 at age 19. No man or woman ever has won the singles trophy at any major event more times than his 14 in Paris. And no man has won more Grand Slam titles than Nadal.

He is two ahead of rivals Roger Federer, who hasn’t played in almost a year after a series of knee operations, and Novak Djokovic, who missed the Australian Open in January because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

 

For all that he has accomplished already, Nadal now has done something he never managed previously: He is halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam thanks to titles at the Australian Open and French Open in the same season.

Nadal improved to 14-0 in finals at Roland Garros and 112-3 overall at his favorite tournament.

“You are a true inspiration for me, for everyone who follows tennis around the world,” said Ruud, a 23-year-old from Norway participating in his first Grand Slam final, “so I hope — we all hope — that you will continue for some more time.”

When the players met at the net for the prematch coin toss, the first chants of “Ra-fa! Ra-fa!” rang out in the 15,000-seat stadium. There would be more such choruses. Ruud heard his own support, especially when he briefly went up in the second set, with some in the stands marking points he won with drawn-out pronouncements of his last name, “Ruuuuuuud,” that sounded as if they might be booing.

Ruud considers Nadal his idol. He recalls watching all of Nadal’s past finals in Paris on TV. He has trained at Nadal’s tennis academy in Mallorca.

They have played countless practice sets together there with nothing more at stake than bragging rights. Nadal usually won those, and Ruud joked the other day that’s because he was trying to be a polite guest.

The two had never met in a real match until Sunday, when a championship, money, ranking points, prestige and a piece of history were on the line. And Nadal demonstrated, as he has so often, why he’s known as the King of Clay — and among the game’s greatest ever.

“We all know what a champion you are, and today I got to feel how it is to play against you in a final. And it’s not easy,” Ruud said. “I’m not the first victim. I know that there have been many before.”

Nadal can now place this latest Coupe des Mousquetaires alongside the trophies he gathered at Roland Garros from 2005 to ’08, 2010 to ’14 and 2017 to ’20. He has also won the US Open four times and the Australian Open and Wimbledon twice apiece.

“For me, personally, it’s very difficult to describe the feelings that I have,” Nadal said. “It’s something that I, for sure, never believed — to be here at 36, being competitive again, playing in the most favorite court of my career, one more time in the final. It means a lot to me. Means everything.”

Rafael Nadal Edges Past Novak Djokovic to Reach French Open Semifinals

Rafael Nadal is one step closer to reclaiming his throne…

The 35-year-old Spanish tennis star, known as the King of Clay, claimed a quarterfinal victory over longtime rival Novak Djokovic that began in May and ended in June at Roland Garros.

Rafael NadalWith a mix of brilliant shot-making and his trademark resilience, Nadal got past the top-seeded defending French Open champion Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4) to move a step closer to his 14th championship at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament and what would be a 22nd major trophy overall, adding to records that he already owns.

“One of those magic nights for me,” Nadal said.

The match began a little past 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, and concluded more than four hours later, after 1 a.m. Wednesday, June 1.

The bracket said this was a quarterfinal, but it felt like a final — from the quality of play to the quality of effort, from the anticipation that preceded it to the atmosphere that enveloped it.

The only missing ingredient: There was no trophy handed to the winner.

Nadal turns 36 on Friday, when he’ll face third-seeded Alexander Zverev in the semifinals. When the subject of Nadal’s future was brought up during his on-court interview, he smiled.

“See you, by the way, in two days,” Nadal said. “That’s the only thing that I can say.”

It’ll be difficult for any match the rest of the way to live up to this one.

“I lost to a better player today,” said Djokovic, who had won 22 sets in a row until the 49-minute opener against Nadal. “Had my chances. Didn’t use them. That’s it.”

This showdown was their 59th, more than any other two men have played against each other in the Open era. Nadal narrowed Djokovic’s series lead to 30-29 while improving to 8-2 against his rival at Roland Garros.

Nadal is now 110-3 for his career at the place. Two of those losses came against Djokovic, including in last year’s semifinals. This time, Nadal made sure Djokovic remains behind him in the Slam count with 20. Nadal broke their three-way tie with Roger Federer at that number by capturing the Australian Open in January, when Djokovic was not able to play because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Carlos Alcaraz Upsets World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to Reach Madrid Open Final

Carlos Alcaraz’s stellar season continues as his list of victims keeps growing…

One day after defeating his idol Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open, the 19-year-old Spanish tennis phenom rallied to beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

Carlos Alcaraz Alcaraz outlasted Djokovic 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) in a semifinal match that lasted more than 3½ hours on Saturday to reach the Madrid Open final.

“It was one of those matches to enjoy,” Alcaraz said. “Despite the tension, despite being the semifinals, being 7-6 in the third-set tiebreaker … I’ve enjoyed it. Until the last point I was being able to smile.”

Alcaraz became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic at the same clay-court event. He converted his third match point in front of a raucous home crowd on the Caja Mágica center court.

“It’s a spectacular feeling right now,” Alcaraz said. “I’m very excited to be able to play these kind of matches, to be able to beat Rafa yesterday, to be able to beat the No. 1 today.”

A win on Sunday will give Alcaraz his fourth title this season, the most of any player in 2022.

He will face defending champion Alexander Zverev, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. The second-seeded German player converted three of his five break opportunities to clinch the victory in nearly two hours in match that ended after 1 a.m. local time.

Alcaraz, the youngest player in the top 10 since Nadal in 2005, has won this year in Miami, Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.

Carlos Alcaraz Earns Landmark Win Over Idol Rafael Nadal at Madrid Open

Carlos Alcaraz has taken out his idol…

In a clash of generations, the 19-year-old Spanish teenage tennis sensation overcame an injury to defeat his idol Rafael Nadal 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the Madrid Open quarterfinals on Friday.

Carlos AlcarazAlcaraz recovered from a bad ankle twist early in the second set to earn his first victory against the 21-time Grand Slam champion, marking what could be the beginning of a changing of the guard in Spanish tennis.

Alcaraz considered by many in Spain as Nadal’s successor will play his first Madrid semifinal against top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who eased past Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4.

“It’s obvious there is [a change in guard],” Nadal said. “He turned 19 yesterday, I’m almost 36 years old. If [the change] begins today or not, we will find out in the next months. I’m happy for him. He was better than me in several aspects of the game.”

It was Nadal’s first loss to a Spanish competitor in six years, since falling to Fernando Verdasco at the 2016 Australian Open. He had a 138-21 record against his countrymen entering the match against Alcaraz.

“It means a lot to me to beat Rafa, to beat the best player in the history on clay,” Alcaraz said. “This is the result of all the hard work I’ve done.”

Still far from his best form after a six-week injury layoff, Nadal predicted a hard time keeping up with the energy of Alcaraz. And he was right early on, as the youngster overpowered him to easily win the first set with three breaks.

But Alcaraz lost momentum after needing medical attention for the ankle, losing 20 of the next 22 points as Nadal cruised through the second set.

The match also was interrupted in the second set after a fan became ill in the stands of the Caja Mágica center court.

Both players got off to a great start this season as they seek their fourth title of the year, which would be the most on tour.

Nadal’s run was hampered by a rib stress fracture suffered in his semifinal win against Alcaraz in Indian Wells. His other win against the ninth-ranked Alcaraz came in Madrid last year, when the youngster was just starting to attract everyone’s attention.

Nadal saved four match points to get past David Goffin in a third-round match that lasted more than three hours on Thursday.

He said it was a positive balance for him after winning two matches following his injury layoff.

“It’s an easy loss to digest in that regard, because we knew what we could expect here,” Nadal said. “My only dream is (to) be in Paris (for the French Open) healthy enough and physically good enough to compete at the highest level possible.”

Carlos Alcaraz Enters Top 10 in ATP Rankings After Claiming Barcelona Open Title

It’s a new high for Carlos Alcaraz

The 18-year-old Spanish tennis phenom has moved up to No. 9 in the ATP rankings, a little more than a month before he turns 19.

Carlos AlcazarThat makes Alcaraz the youngest man to break into the Top 10 since Rafael Nadal did it exactly 17 years ago.

Alcaraz rose two spots after winning the Barcelona Open on Sunday. He beat compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

At 18 years, 11 months and 20 days old, Alcaraz is the ninth-youngest man to reach the top 10 since the computer rankings began in 1973. His fellow Spaniard Nadal was about a month younger when he climbed into the top 10 on April 25, 2005, after a title on Barcelona’s clay.

The youngest man to crack that elite level on the ATP Tour was Aaron Krickstein, who was 11 days past his 17th birthday when he made his debut in the Top 10 in August 1984.

Alcaraz is tied with Nadal for the most ATP titles in 2022 with three; his 23 match wins are second behind only Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has 24 victories this season.

Novak Djokovic remained at No. 1 after finishing as the runner-up to Andrey Rublev in the Serbia Open, with Daniil Medvedev still at No. 2, Alexander Zverev at No. 3 and Nadal at No. 4.

Nadal, owner of a men’s-record 21 Grand Slam singles championships, has been in the top 10 every week since he first got there.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Defeats Grigor Dimitrov to Reach First ATP Final of His Career at Monte Carlo Masters

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina has reached his first ATP final…

The 22-year-old Spanish professional tennis player, who knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round, reached his first ATP final by beating Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-3 at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Alejandro Davidovich FokinaThe unseeded Davidovich Fokina took the first set from Dimitrov with ease, but squandered the chance at 5-4 in the second to take the semifinal in straight sets. The third set was tense. Davidovich Fokina overcame a break and 2-0 down.

“I pushed myself to the limit,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I’m glad that I pushed myself to that.”

He will try to prevent Stefanos Tsitsipas from becoming the first repeat Monte Carlo champion since Rafael Nadal in 2018.

Tsitsipas breezed into the Monte Carlo Masters final after dispatching second-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.

Tsitsipas has a 2-0 record against him, including in February in the Netherlands.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Pulls Off Upset Win Against Novak Djokovic at Monte Carlo Masters

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is celebrating an upset…

The 22-year-old Spanish professional tennis player pulled off a stunning victory against Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Alejandro Davidovich FokinaDavidovich Fokina stunned the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1 in the second round to hand Djokovic another setback as he tries to move on from the controversy surrounding his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It makes for rare back-to-back losses for Djokovic, who had not played since being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February — his only previous tournament this year after he was barred from playing at the Australian Open.

Djokovic struggled from the start as the 46th-ranked Spaniard broke him early to pull ahead 4-1 before another break handed him the first set. Davidovich Fokina kept up the pressure and led 3-0 in the second before Djokovic clawed back. But the Serb continued to struggle on his serve and was broken three times in the decider.

“He was the better player,” Djokovic said. “I was hanging on the ropes the entire match.”

The Serb said he was too exhausted to put up a fight in the third set.

“I collapsed,” Djokovic said. “I just ran out of gas completely … If you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible.”

Djokovic had beaten Davidovich Fokina in straight sets twice last year, in Rome and at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games.

Djokovic could not defend his Australian Open title in January after he was deported from the country for not being vaccinated. He had to skip tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami because he couldn’t travel to the United States for the same reason.

The authorities in France and Monaco lifted most COVID-19 restrictions last month, allowing people who aren’t vaccinated into the country and back into restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.

That means Djokovic will be able to play at the French Open, which remains his “big goal of the clay season.”

“I knew that it’s going to take some time for me to really feel my best on the clay,” Djokovic said. “I have to accept defeat and keep working … and hopefully build my form for Roland Garros.”

The French Open starts on May 22 in Paris.

In the meantime, Davidovich Fokina is moving on to the Round of 16 at the Monte Carlo Masters.