NEW YORK – Carlos Alcaraz’s stunning triumph at the US Open marked another record-setting episode in a story predicted to end with “30 Grand Slam titles”.
The 19-year-old’s 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 victory over Casper Ruud in New York on Sunday saw him become the youngest winner of a men’s Grand Slam since Rafael Nadal at the 2005 French Open.
He is now the youngest man to ascend to the world No. 1 ranking and the youngest champion in New York since Pete Sampras in 1990.
The modest, muscular star from the small Murcian town of El Palmar in Spain’s south-east is no stranger to breaking records, never more so than in 2022.
Five of his six career titles have come this year while Sunday’s triumph saw his on-court earnings nudge close to US$10 million (S$13.98 million).
When he broke into the world’s top five in July, he was the youngest man to do so since 2005.
Alcaraz then hit the giant-killing jackpot in Madrid in May when he became the only man to defeat both Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the same clay-court event.
For good measure, he achieved it on back-to-back days on his way to the title.
‘Never gives up’
“Carlos’ intensity and speed is something you rarely see,” said Nadal’s uncle and former long-time coach Toni Nadal. “His game follows the same path as Rafa; he never gives up until the last ball and has that characteristic intensity.”
Nadal was also 19 when he won the first of his record 22 Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros in 2005.
However, the 36-year-old has pleaded with fans not to put pressure on the teenager by making bold comparisons.
“I forgot what I was like at 19,” said Nadal. “The only thing we can do is enjoy the career of an extraordinary player like Carlos.
“If he manages to win 25 Grand Slams, it will be fantastic for him and for our country. But let him enjoy his career.”
Despite Nadal’s reluctance, making comparisons is unavoidable.
Nadal won the first of his 92 titles at Sopot at the age of 18 in 2004.