The longer term of tennis arrived at 7:38 p.m. Sunday with a rocketed serve off the racket of Carlos Alcaraz, who clinched the U.S. Open men’s singles championship, announcing the beginning of a latest era in the sport.
Alcaraz, the 19-year-old Spanish sensation, beat Casper Ruud of Norway, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3, to win his first Grand Slam singles title, but probably not his last. Far, removed from it. A blasted serve that got here off his racket like a missile sealed it. The Carlos Alcaraz era is here.
On Sunday, he reached the game’s pinnacle in grand fashion on its biggest stage, packing the nearly 24,000 fans within the stadium onto his bandwagon as he claimed not only the lads’s singles championship and $2.6 million in prize money, but in addition the No. 1 rating on this planet, becoming the youngest man to achieve this. He’s the youngest man to win a Grand Slam title since Rafael Nadal won the 2005 French Open as a 19-year-old.
Alcaraz’s rise to the highest of the game had been predicted for years, however it has been breathtaking nonetheless. His forehand is powerful, and his ability to chase down balls that other players wouldn’t hassle trying to achieve is thrilling to observe. He can hit the lustiest of winners when he gets to them, and he takes pure joy from competing, even in the midst of the night. He has dazzled crowds all over the place he has played during his first two years as a full-fledged skilled, never more so than in the course of the past two weeks of this unforgettable championship run.
The ride began in 2021 in Australia, where he won his first predominant draw Grand Slam match on a court within the hinterlands of Melbourne Park with just a couple of dozen fans in attendance. He was outside the highest 100 of the rankings then. In Croatia, last summer, he won his first tour-level title, and in Recent York starting a month later he blasted and drop-shotted his way into the quarterfinals as a part of a teenage wave that took over the U.S. Open.
This spring brought his first titles on the Masters level, slightly below the Grand Slams, in Miami Gardens, Fla., and Madrid, where he beat Nadal and Novak Djokovic in consecutive matches. Veterans playing him — and infrequently losing — for the primary time left the court shaking their heads, their eyes glazed, and confused about what they’d experienced.
“That is something I even have dreamed of since I used to be a child,” Alcaraz, not to date faraway from youth, said in the course of the trophy presentation, after he and Ruud acknowledged the solemnity of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks of their moments of tennis heartbreak and triumph.
Alcaraz’s victory was the capstone of a tournament that can be recalled for years for a lot of reasons. There was the farewell to Serena Williams, widely considered the best female player of the trendy era; the rise of Frances Tiafoe, the 24-year-old American son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, who knocked out Nadal and pushed Alcaraz to the bounds in an electrical five-set semifinal; and on Saturday, Iga Swiatek of Poland staked her claim as the brand new queen of the sport, winning her third Grand Slam title in lower than two years.
The tournament set an all-time attendance record of 776,120 for the past two weeks, surpassing the previous record of 737,872, set in 2019.
On Sunday, there was Alcaraz, doing the same old Alcaraz things. He sprinted from one corner of the court to the opposite, from the back wall to the sting of the web, whipping and spinning balls, and tantalizing and wowing a crowd sprinkled with the same old forged of celebrities befitting the ultimate round. Years from now, the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Anna Wintour, Questlove and Christie Brinkley can tell friends they were there when the teenager won his first Grand Slam title.
The championship got here at the top of an epic week for Alcaraz. Simply to get to the ultimate, he played three straight five-set matches, starting Monday, that had him on the court for some 15 hours. His quarterfinal victory over Jannik Sinner lasted until 2:50 a.m. on Thursday, the newest finish within the history of a tournament notorious for late endings. Two nights later, or relatively, the following night, he outlasted Tiafoe in emotional, battle-filled, lung-busting rallies in a match with miraculous point-saving shots to the top.
“I’ve never played a player who moves as well,” said Tiafoe, who has played the perfect of the perfect. “He’s going to be an issue for a really very long time.”
Alcaraz, though, said his first probability at a Grand Slam final was no time to be drained, and he began causing problems for Ruud early. Determined to not get into one other marathon slugfest against an opponent as regular and fit as anyone else in the sector, Alcaraz stepped on the gas pedal from the beginning, rushing the web at every good probability and ending points with crisp volleys hit on the sharpest angles. Given what had transpired recently, Ruud had every right to expect Alcaraz’s unique form of tennis attrition. As an alternative he got shock-and-awe.
Alcaraz grabbed the early edge within the third game. With Ruud serving, he eschewed any inclinations to ease his way into the match. With a probability to cause early damage, Alcaraz flicked on his afterburners and commenced grunting with late-match urgency and volume on every shot.
After Alcaraz clinched that first service break, Ruud grabbed his towel near the corner of the court where his father and coach, the previous pro Christian Ruud, sat a couple of feet above the court. Team Ruud needed a plan B.
It took one other 10 games for Ruud to seek out it, but he did. Down a set, Ruud pressured Alcaraz by putting ball after ball at his feet, then placed on an Alcaraz-like display of power and touch and covered the court to even the match after an hour and a half, as Alcaraz’s efficiency, and his lethal drop-shot, went missing temporarily.
This was a special Ruud than the one who took a drubbing from Nadal in his first Grand Slam final on the French Open three months ago, on a day when he looked like someone with really good seats for the match relatively than an opponent. Ruud was not going away on his own Sunday.
But throughout the tournament, Alcaraz showed a rare ability to seek out the following gear to fulfill whatever challenge got here his way. He put that on full display late within the third set, during an important, and for Ruud, soul-crushing stretch across a single game and a tiebreaker.
With Alcaraz serving to remain within the set, Ruud poured every little bit of his power and determination right into a series of rocketed forehands that earned him two possibilities to maneuver a set ahead. Every time, Alcaraz pressed forward, fearlessly pushing into the court chin first. His probability for a lead gone, Ruud crumpled within the tiebreaker with a series of untamed misses as Alcaraz reeled off seven consecutive points.
From there, holding back Alcaraz suddenly felt very similar to it has all 12 months, a task akin to holding back an ocean. An absurd forehand, topspin lob while Alcaraz was running at full speed gave him the prospect to get the crucial fourth-set service break. A degree later, he did his best impression of a human backboard until Ruud could keep the ball within the court now not.
After the ultimate point, a crushing service winner, Alcaraz collapsed on his back. A minute later he was embracing his longtime coach — the previous world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero — who has piloted the journey, together with Alcaraz’s father, a former pro himself, and his grandfather, who helped develop the tennis club where he began to play as a 3-year-old.
When he made it back to his chair, Alcaraz put his face in a towel and sobbed, as Ruud sat stoically a couple of feet away. Ruud knew what had hit him, and knew that it could possibly be the primary of many days that end like this one.
The era is just starting.