To many outside, Carlos Alcaraz lifting the US Open trophy looked like the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. For Alcaraz himself, however, his first Grand Slam triumph is just the beginning.
It speaks to the determination and competitive nature of the 19-year-old who already has his sights set on another Grand Slam win in 2023.
Alcaraz’s victory in New York after two weeks of grueling tennis – the youngster played three consecutive five-set marathons in the rounds leading up to the final – makes him the youngest player to win a Grand Slam since Rafael Nadal he raised the first of his 14 French. Titles opened in 2005.
Both coming from Spain and naturals on clay, the comparisons between Alcaraz and Nadal were inevitable. Despite idolizing Nadal growing up, Alcaraz has always rejected the nicknames of “the next Nadal” or “mini Nadal”, instead insisting he wants to carve out his own legacy.
On Sunday he took the first step, and perhaps the hardest, of that journey.
“I’ve worked very, very hard the last two years, I’ve also suffered a lot on this road to get this trophy,” Alcaraz told CNN Sport’s Carolyn Manno after his four-set victory over Casper Ruud. “Of course, it’s time to keep working, to stay at the top for many years or try to get more Grand Slams.
TO READ: Carlos Alcaraz seals his place in history by defeating Casper Ruud in the US Open final
“On the road it’s not always happy, you have to suffer a lot, a lot of hard times in your life, so you have to overcome it. I worked really, really hard for it.
“I have my first at 19, I hope to get another one next year, but I have suffered a lot these two weeks, so I know it is very, very difficult to get a Grand Slam, but I will work for another one. I will fight for get another one and so that’s a goal for me next year.”
With his victory, Alcaraz also claims the no. 1 in the world rankings for the first time, becoming the youngest player in ATP history to do so. It’s a good way to end what has been an amazing year for the youngster from Palmar, in the Murcia region.
After winning his first ATP title in 2021, Alcaraz has thrived even more in 2022, winning four titles, including two Masters 1000 tournaments, to climb the rankings from no. 32 at the beginning of the year.
Sunday’s battle against Ruud is a match that tennis fans will likely be watching a lot more of in the future, with the Norwegian tipped by many to be a future Grand Slam champion.
After securing match point, a visibly emotional Alcaraz fell to the floor, though it probably could have been as much exhaustion as excitement. Somehow he managed to find the strength to climb the stands to reach the goal post, sharing hugs with friends, family and his coach, former world number one. 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 her win. “I worked very, very hard to be able to lift this trophy today, to become the best player in the world. For me, this feeling is indescribable, so this trophy means a lot to me.
“I thought about when I started playing tennis and of course my whole family, all my coaches throughout my life, everything from when I was little. When you are a child, you always dream of many things and being the No. 1 in the world and being 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 very happy.”
Nadal was among the first to praise Alcaraz’s success, with some seeing his victory in New York as the official passing of the torch for Spanish tennis.
“Congratulations @carlosalcaraz on your first Grand Slam and #1 ranking, which is the culmination of your first great season and one that I’m sure will be many more to come!” the 22-time Grand Slam champion wrote on Twitter.
With the skill, will and determination on display at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday, it looks like Spain will continue to have tennis glory to celebrate for years to come.