Tennis player Carlos Alcaraz, 18, won $1.2 million

Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, 18, won the Miami Open. He defeated Norwegian Kasper Ruud in the final and picked up a $1.2 million check.

Tennis player Carlos Alcaraz, 18, won $1.2 million

Both Miami Masters finalists reached the decider for the first time in their careers at such a high-caliber tournament. And this meant that in Miami 2022 a new champion of both the competition itself and the Masters would be defined. Kasper Ruud of Norway beat Francisco Serundolo of Argentina in the semifinals, and 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz overcame last year’s winner Hubert Hurkach. This is Ruud’s 10th career final, but the previous nine were ATP-250. The Norwegian won seven of them by two losses. And for Alcaraz it’s only his third career final. Each time he managed to move up a category of tournaments. First he won the ATP250 in Umaga 2021, then the ATP500 in Rio 2022 and now he has reached the Masters.

You can talk about the 18-year-old Alcaraz for a very long time. They do not call him the “Nadal heir”, “the modern version of Nadal”, etc. for nothing. On the day of the Miami final, Carlos was 18, 333 days old – making him the fifth oldest Masters finalist in the history of tournaments in this category. Before Alcaraz, only Michael Chang in Toronto in 1990 (18 years 157 days), Rafael Nadal in Miami in 2005 (18 years 304 days) and Monte Carlo in 2005 (18 years 318 days) and Richard Gasquet in Hamburg in 2005 (18 years 331 days) reached the major tournament of this rank.

On the comparison between Alcaraz and Nadal before the final, renowned tennis coach Patrick Muratoglu commented: “I completely understand these comparisons with Nadal. First of all, they’re both Spaniards, second, they’re both physically gifted players, and third, they’re incredibly smart. That’s a lot of things. I think their playing style is also very similar. But I’m talking about Rafa now, not Rafa at Alcaraz’s age. At that time, Nadal was playing completely different: further from the back line, with long draws. Now Rafa is more aggressive, so I would say Alcaraz is his modern version.”

Note that 23-year-old Kasper Ruud is the first Norwegian to play in an ATP final, win an ATP tournament, reach the top 10 of the ATP rankings and finally reach the Masters final. Before the final, Ruud said he hoped that he would soon find himself on a par with his almost peers – Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stephanos Tsitsipas, all of whom have Grand Slam finals and wins in the final: “These guys have achieved better results than I have. I’ve beaten two of them before. I faced Daniel a couple of times, but he was too good. I think we’ll be watching these players for the next 10-15 years. I hope I can join them. The fact that I’m from a small country plays a role in the fact that I’m not as popular in the world. Norway doesn’t occupy that much space on the tennis map. Also, I haven’t been able to perform well at Grand Slam tournaments yet. Hopefully I’ll get it right soon and then a lot of people will know that Norway has a tennis player like me.

The history of personal meetings between Alcaraz and Ruud is still quite short. They have met only once. In the 1/4 finals of the Marbella-2021 clay-court tournament Carlos won 6-2, 6-4. At the time Ruud was already in the ATP top-30 rankings and was regarded as the favourite. But the Spaniard was outside the top 100 and was only just gaining momentum. Interestingly, both Masters finalists play brilliantly on the French clay.

From the very first minutes of the match Ruud literally stunned his opponent from Spain. In the second game the Norwegian broke his serve on Alcaraz and was up 3-0. However, in the fifth game Ruud’s serve broke. The Spaniard got a break point, but could not use it. But the next time the score was 4:2, Alcaraz converted the break, 4:3. From there the players confidently held their serve and prepared the spectators for the tie-break. But with the score 5:5 Carlos upped his pace, went on the attack and from the second break point took Ruud’s serve, and then served to set – 7:5 in 1 hour and 1 minute.

Alcaraz took a two-break lead at the beginning of the second set, winning six games in a row, including the first set. But Ruud wasn’t about to give up. In the fourth game he got one serve back from the sixth break point and then took his game 3-2. After that, however, Kasper called the doctor, complaining that he wasn’t feeling well. The doctor did something to his back for a few minutes, after which the game continued. However, Kasper wasn’t able to do anything else incredible. Alcaraz calmly took the match to victory – 7-5, 6-4 in 1 hour and 49 minutes.