It’s indicative of the 19-year-old’s determined character and competitive nature that he already has another Grand Slam victory in sight in 2023.
Alcaraz’s victory in New York after two grueling weeks of tennis – the youngster played three consecutive marathon matches in five sets in the rounds leading up to the final – made him the youngest player to win a Grand Slam since Rafael Nadal won the first of his 14 French Open titles in 2005.
Hailing from Spain and natural on clay, comparisons between Alcaraz and Nadal were inevitable. Although he idolized Nadal growing up, Alcaraz has always pushed back against the monikers ‘next Nadal’ or ‘mini Nadal’, instead insisting that he wants to carve out his own legacy.
On Sunday, he took the first step – and perhaps the most difficult – of this journey.
“It’s not always happy on the way, you have to suffer a lot, a lot of hard times in your life, so you have to overcome that. I worked really, really hard for that.
“I had the first one when I was 19, I hope to have another one next year, but I suffered a lot these two weeks, so I know it’s really, really difficult to get a Grand Slam. , but I will work for I will fight to get another one and so that is a goal for me next year.
With his victory, Alcaraz also claims the world No. 1 ranking for the first time, becoming the youngest player in ATP history to do so. It’s a fitting way to cap off what has been an astonishing breakout year for the youngster from El Palmar in the Murcia region.
After winning his first ATP title in 2021, Alcaraz flourished further in 2022, winning four titles – including two Masters 1000 tournaments – to move up the rankings from 32nd at the start of the year.
Sunday’s battle against Ruud is a match tennis fans are likely to see a lot more of in the future, with the Norwegian seen by many as a future Grand Slam champion.
After landing a match point, a visibly emotional Alcaraz fell to the ground, though it probably could have been as much due to exhaustion as emotion. He managed to find the strength to climb through the stands to reach his box of supporters, sharing hugs with friends, family and his coach, former world number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.
“This moment means a lot to me, it’s something I’ve been looking for since I started playing tennis,” Alcaraz said after his win. “I worked really, really hard to be able to lift this trophy today, to become the best player in the world. For me, that feeling is indescribable, so this trophy means a lot to me.
“I thought about when I started playing tennis and of course all of my family, all of my coaches throughout my life, everything that I was as a kid. When you’re a kid, you always dream of many things and to be world No. 1 and to be a grand slam champion were dreams for me.
“So right now to lift this trophy is a dream come true for me, so I’m so happy.”
Nadal was among the first to applaud Alcaraz’s achievement, with some seeing his victory in New York as the official passing of the torch for Spanish tennis.
“Congratulations @carlosalcaraz for your first Grand Slam and for the number 1 ranking, which is the culmination of your first great season and which I’m sure there will be many more!” wrote the 22-time Grand Slam champion on Twitter.
With the skill, will and determination that were on display at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday, it looks like Spain will continue to have tennis glory to celebrate for years to come.