If 18-year-old Miami Open champion Carlos Alcaraz has any limits, we haven’t seen them yetBy Apr 03, 2022
How Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz sparked a month of upheaval on the ATP and WTA toursBy Apr 05, 2022
Rafael Nadal notes "historic triumph" by compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in MiamiBy Apr 04, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz defeats Casper Ruud to become youngest Miami Open men's champion, claim maiden Masters 1000 titleBy Apr 03, 2022
Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka set stage for stirring rivalry as introverts reign in MiamiBy Apr 02, 2022
Miami Open men's final preview: Casper Ruud vs. Carlos AlcarazBy Apr 02, 2022
Iga Swiatek caps No. 1 ascent with third straight title at Miami Open, Sunshine DoubleBy Apr 02, 2022
Iga Swiatek gaining confidence, not pressure, from winning run through Miami OpenBy Apr 02, 2022
Daniil Medvedev clay swing in doubt after hernia surgery announcementBy Apr 02, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz is not merely a potential star—he is a supernovaBy Apr 02, 2022
If 18-year-old Miami Open champion Carlos Alcaraz has any limits, we haven’t seen them yet
The surging Spaniard beat Casper Ruud for his first Masters 1000 title with the same athleticism, acumen, and assurance he has shown all season.
Published Apr 03, 2022
INTERVIEW: Carlos Alcaraz wins the Miami Open
Some of us have spent the last few years wondering how long it might take for a player to come along and threaten the records that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have amassed. The Big Three have at least 20 major titles each, while only two men under 30, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem, have won even one. As of a few weeks ago, it seemed possible that their marks could stand for generations.
After Carlos Alcaraz’s victory at the Miami Open today, does it feel like it might take a little less time than we thought?
Granted, Alcaraz has yet to reach a semifinal at a Grand Slam event, let alone win one. And this was his first Masters 1000 title, which leaves him 35 and 36 behind Nadal and Djokovic, respectively. But right now, after his 17-2 start to 2022, the sky really does seem to be the limit for the 18-year-old, who has time to take home a lot of hardware in the next couple of decades.
Just ask Nadal, who said Alcaraz is “unstoppable in terms of his career” two weeks ago in Indian Wells. Rafa got the better of his countryman there, but Alcaraz went one better than Nadal in Miami—a tournament the 21-time Grand Slam champion has never won. In 2005, at 18, Rafa lost a five-set final in Key Biscayne to Federer; today Alcaraz beat Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-4 to become the youngest men’s champion in the tournament’s history.
Obviously, Ruud is not Federer. And obviously, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. But it’s an easy thing to do when you watch Alcaraz play. It isn’t just that he won Miami, it’s how comprehensive and assured his performances were there.
You want raw athleticism? Alcaraz’s 102-m.p.h. crosscourt forehands looked almost causal today, and it took just a couple of quick steps for him to track down Ruud’s biggest ground-stroke rips into the corners.
You want variety and tactical acumen? Alcaraz seemed to make a point of trying to finish rallies in as many different ways as he could. He won them with forehands, he won them with drop shots, he won them with touch volleys and powerful smashes, he won them with aces down the T, and uncannily accurate kick serves wide into the ad court. If anything, I think Alcaraz could make his life easier by cutting back on the finesse shots and pummeling his ground strokes more often. But maybe he thinks that keeping his opponent guessing is the best long-term strategy.
Finally, there’s his precocious self-assurance. Alcaraz wasn’t perfect in this final. He started nervously, smothering his forehand and losing the first three games. But through the tournament, he had showed a knack for stealing sets that didn’t look like they were going to be his, and he bounced back to win 10 of the next 12 games against Ruud. Then, when Ruud made the second set close, Alcaraz calmly leaned on his serve to get him across the finish line.
According to his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, it was Alcaraz’s ability to play up to the level of his competition when he was younger that made him realize how good he could be.
“I remember when he was practicing with some of the players that they were somewhat higher in the rankings than him, he was 16 or 17, and he could adapt his game to the level of the other players,” Ferrero said. “You know, it means he has something.
“His potential was there, and I [only had] to let it flow and let it play and keep things in a good path.”
Alcaraz’s path already has him knocking on the door of the Top 10. Where will it stop? It’s going to be fun finding out over the next 20 years.