Carlos Alcaraz is the youngest to be crowned Miami Open champion

Carlos Alcaraz believes watching childhood idol Rafael Nadal helped him become the youngest Miami Open champion on Sunday. Alcaraz, who turns 19 next month, showed why many believe he is currently the hottest young prospect in men’s tennis with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Norwegian world number eight Casper Ruud to clinch a first ATP Masters crown. Only two men have won titles at this level at a younger age – Michael Chang, who was 18 years and 5 months old when he won in Toronto in 1990, and Rafael Nadal, 18 years and 10 months old when he was victorious in Monte Carlo in 2005.

Alcaraz dropped just one set on their way to triumph in Miami and will now leave to compete on their favorite clay surface backed by the biggest victory of their career.

There is still a long way to go before he is even close to replicating the legendary career of fellow 21 Grand Slam winner Nadal, but Alcaraz says he plans to have fun trying.

“I’ve always admired Rafa, I’ve always watched his great moments and his matches and learned a lot from them,” said Alcaraz, who received a congratulatory call from Spain’s King Felipe VI, after a famous victory which saw him crumble to the ground on winning the final point, AFP told AFP.

“When I fell to the ground, all the times I dreamed about it came to me,” added Alcaraz, beaten by Nadal in the semi-finals at Indian Wells last month.

Nadal was among the first to congratulate Alcaraz on their victory on Sunday, hailing a “historic” triumph.

“The first of many to come, I’m sure,” Nadal wrote on Twitter.

Much is expected of Alcaraz whose passionate and high-energy displays in the latter stages of the Miami Open energized the Florida crowd.

He then insisted his goal now was to win a Grand Slam – and that was certainly a good start.

It was the more low-key Norwegian, 23, however, who looked most comfortable at the start of what was his 10th ATP Finals breaking early and keeping the pressure firmly on his precocious opponent.

Despite the majority of the crowd supporting the Spanish player, he was unable to seize a break opportunity at 3-1, with Ruud proving he has the kind of mental toughness to thrive in such demanding situations.

“Huge” victory: Ferrero

Yet when another chance came to break through the world number eight’s service game, Alcaraz, who reached the last four in Indian Wells last month, seized it before retaining his own serve to firmly hand over a first lively set in the balance at 4-4.

A searing forehand created two more break points and although Ruud saved the first, he then struck wide to put Alacaraz in charge to clinch the opening set.

Two breaks early in the second set further cemented Alcaraz’s dominance, with the teenager taking a 3-0 lead which was too high a mountain for the combative but ultimately outclassed Ruud.

“I didn’t expect to reach the final, so I can’t be too upset,” said the Norwegian.

“Carlos is very aggressive and a great move. You think you’ve hit a winner but he’s here to give it back.”

It was an emotionally charged afternoon for Alcaraz and his side who were energized before the match when coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, the former world number one, absent from the tournament following the death of his father, came to surprise his protege. .

“I had planned to come here two days ago and after the semi-final win I wanted to surprise him and give him even more support,” Ferrero said.

“It’s an incredibly important win, he’s growing as a player and as a person. He has to stay focused, calm and surround himself with the right people.

“It will be huge for his confidence.”

Alcaraz, who reached the last eight at the US Open last year, is already tipped to help fill the superstar void when Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic finally leave the stage.

Promoted

“New blood is welcome,” added Ferrero. “I’ve known his potential for three years, so I’m not surprised.

“But everything happened very quickly.”

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