Destiny has come fast for Carlos Alcaraz, the Spanish 19-year-old who is the new world No.1, the youngest player ever to top the rankings, and the US Open champion.
At 19 years and four months he is more than one year younger than Lleyton Hewitt 20 years ago. On Sunday night, Alcaraz and Norwegian 23-year-old Casper Ruud were playing for their first grand-slam title and the position of world No.1. They put on a spectacular show that hinged around the end of the third set.
With the Spaniard serving at 5-6, Ruud’s monumental forehand earned him two set points. On both of these Alcaraz chose the right tactic and displayed the technical expertise to survive.
A delicate forehand volley played cross-court and short had a particularly high tariff of difficulty and demonstrated his physical strength as well as a delicate touch.
This is the deadly combination this generation of players will have to deal with, including Britain’s Jack Draper, who will have been inspired by what he saw in New York.
Alcaraz swept through the third set tie-break and there was no hesitation as the winning line approached. He graciously thanked his entire family, including his mum and grandfather who were watching back home in Murcia, and immediately said he was going to work hard straight away because he wanted more of this.
The signs are ominous for the magnificent generation of players who have amazed us for years led by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Alcaraz is half their age but seemingly as strong and fast around the court. His racket head speed is second to none.
The match I want to see is Djokovic against Alcaraz and I bet there is big Middle-Eastern money that would want to put that on as an exhibition.
I would love to see it in Australia in January when the tennis world gathers again for the next grand slam. After the political and moral circus surrounding Djokovic’s deportation from Melbourne at the start of the year, he will need special dispensation from the Australian government in order to play, although it sounds like that may be forthcoming.
Surely Federer can’t be watching Alcaraz and relishing the prospect of fending him off and Nadal, young Carlos’ inspiration, must have doubts about how long his 36-year-old body can hold out.
This generation are unlikely to allow Andy Murray another grand-slam title and with Sascha Zverev injured and Dominic Thiem lacking in confidence, perhaps the stage is set for Daniil Medvedev and Alcaraz to scrap it out on the biggest stages. And if Matteo Berrettini can stay injury-free, I can imagine him as a major champion.
But there is a sense the future is here and that Carlos the wizard is exactly what the game has been looking for. Over to you, Novak.
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