Carlos Alcaraz used his combination of moxie and maturity to beat Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 in the U.S. Open final on Sunday to earn his first Grand Slam title at age 19 and become the youngest man to be ranked No. 1.
Alcaraz is a Spaniard who was appearing in his eighth major tournament and second at Flushing Meadows but already has attracted plenty of attention as someone considered the Next Big Thing in men’s tennis.
He was serenaded by choruses of “Olé, Olé, Olé! Carlos!” that reverberated off the closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium — and Alcaraz 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.
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-reflect, 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.
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.
Ruud is a 23-year-old from Norway who is now 0-2 in Slam finals. He was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open in June.