Spanish 14th seed Carlos Alcaraz capped a dream run at the Miami Open, with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Norwegian world number eight Casper Ruud in the final on Sunday, to secure the biggest win of his young career.
The 18-year-old Alcaraz earned his first ATP Masters 1,000 crown and is the first Spanish man to triumph in Miami after eight previous final appearances by his compatriots, including five by Rafael Nadal.
“I have no words to describe how I feel,” Alcaraz said after he replaced Novak Djokovic — aged 19 — as the youngest champion in the 37-year-old tournament’s history.
Alcaraz was roughed up by Ruud in the early stages of the match between the two up-and-coming players but roared back from a 4-1 deficit to take the opener with an overhead smash on his third set point.
From there, the Spaniard refused to relinquish control as he went up a double-break for an early 3-0 lead in the second set where Ruud managed to get one back but, ultimately, had no answer as Alcaraz kept up the pressure in a match that featured two first-time ATP Masters 1,000 finalists.
With victory within his grasp, Alcaraz dropped just two points in his final three service games and coolly served out the one hour, 52 minute match to love in the final game.
The shot-making ability from the Spanish teen was on full display: daring drop shots in tense situations, deft touch at the net when needed, and raw power from the baseline when warranted as he outplayed Ruud.
He was watched by coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, who had been away while mourning the death of his father but made it back to Miami in time for the final.
When the match was over, Alcaraz hopped into the stands to give Ferrero his first hug as a Miami champion, as his coach wiped away tears.
“It’s pretty amazing to share this with you,” Alcaraz told Ferrero.
Alcaraz paid tribute to his opponent after the match.
“I tried not to let him dominate the match. Forehand down the line, backhand down the line was a key for me.”
Alcaraz lost one set in six matches in Miami, improving to 18-2 overall this year, and he’s become the third-youngest winner of any ATP Masters 1,000 series event since the competition began in 1990.
The only younger winners are Michael Chang and Nadal.
His victory marked Alcaraz’s third ATP Tour title after triumphs at the Rio Open in February and his win at Umag last July, when he became the youngest tour-level champion since Kei Nishikori won at Delray Beach in 2008.