He has consistently followed through on his promises, and on Sunday night he completed the wild and exciting journey to win his first grand slam title by withstanding a fierce assault from Casper Ruud and continuing with his shotmaking and athleticism. He defeated his Norwegian opponent by scores of 6-4, 2-6, 7-6, and 6-3 to win the US Open.
He has spent a good portion of the last five years setting age records, and he is about to set the most spectacular record of them all—one that might last for a very long time. Alcaraz will become the youngest player in ATP history to accomplish the feat when he ascends to the top spot on Monday for the first time in his career. The Spaniard, who is more than a year younger than the previous record-holder, Lleyton Hewitt, is the first teenage No. 1 in the history of the men’s game at the age of just 19 years and four months.
Alcaraz had by far the best tennis at this tournament, but the week preceding up to the final could not have been much tougher for him. He had played on the court for 20 hours and 20 minutes prior to his encounter with Ruud, competing in three back-to-back five-setter matches. Although the Spaniard had been excellent, he had also continually made things more difficult. This year’s final began with the uncertainty of when he would exhaust his physical capabilities.
Alcaraz played loose, aggressive tennis at the beginning of the game, unleashing his entire repertoire of shots and consistently advancing toward the net. Ruud was unwavering even though he was a set behind. The Norwegian took in and recovered what he could while keeping calm and attacking with decisions that had a high probability of success.
During the cat-and-mouse games that Alcaraz started, Ruud came up with some exquisite improvised tennis while showcasing his own hand talents. After a fantastic return game, he broke serve by chasing down a drop shot from Alcaraz and scooping it over his opponent’s head on break point. He slammed an overhead from the baseline for a deciding hold in the game after saving a break point in the one after that.
By the close of the second set, Alcaraz was having a little trouble, trying too many unsuccessful drop shots, and making dubious choices. Ruud started to serve brilliantly, added more speed on his groundstrokes, and asserted himself with his forehand as Alcaraz’s tennis teetered. At 6-5 in the match, he bravely created two set points before making his move. He unleashed his forehand from all over the court.