Carlos Alcaraz, a Spanish youngster, became the youngest person to reach the top of the world rankings on Sunday after winning his first Grand Slam tournament at the US Open.
In the championship match, the 19-year-old dragged his worn-out body to a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 triumph against Norway’s Casper Ruud.
Alcaraz, the youngest Grand Slam men’s champion since Rafael Nadal at the 2005 French Open, is the first adolescent to hold the top position following a performance with 55 winners and 14 aces.
In addition, he is the youngest champion in New York since Pete Sampras in 1990 on a day filled with historical events.
Alcaraz had a demanding campaign and broke Kevin Anderson’s previous record of 23 hours and 21 minutes at Wimbledon in 2018 for the most period spent on the court at a single Grand Slam event.
Ruud lost in the Slam final for the second time this year after failing to Nadal at the French Open. He was also fighting for the world’s number one position.
Before the final began tentatively, the Arthur Ashe Stadium audience shared a touching minute of remembrance for the 21st anniversary of the September 11 attacks with the roof closed.
Before Alcaraz earned the sole break of the first set to take a crucial 3-1 lead, both players saved break opportunities in their respective opening service games.
Ruud lost the set but earned points for good sportsmanship when, in the eighth game, he called a double bounce on himself and gave the Spaniard the end.
Alcaraz used his 13 wins compared to the Norwegian’s six to serve it out to love and take the first set.
The Spanish youngster, who had a 2-0 advantage against Ruud in the match, lost a breakpoint at 2-2 in the second set.
Ruud made him pay by winning 4-2 and then tying the match on the second set point after another sloppy Alcaraz drop-shot left the Norwegian with an attractive opening on the court.
Alcaraz had just surpassed Andy Murray’s record of over 22 hours on the court when the British player won the 2012 championship.
In the third set, he led 2-0 before Ruud came back.
In an 11-minute 12th game, the 23-year-old Norwegian had two set opportunities but could not capitalize as Alcaraz netted two inch-perfect volleys.
As Ruud’s game abruptly broke down, Alcaraz took the most of his respite by advancing quickly to his first tiebreak victory of the tournament.
The Spaniard saw his opportunity and broke to go up 4-2 in the fourth set before increasing his ace total to 12 to go up 5-2.
Ruud held to love, but Alcaraz won on the second match point, and he celebrated by falling to the court.