Carlos Alcaraz has made Miami Open history by becoming the youngest man ever to win the title, defeating sixth seed Casper Ruud 7-5 6-4 in the final. At 18 years and 11 months he is also the third-youngest Masters 1000 champion in history, needing an hour and 52 minutes to storm to the title and live up to his expectations as one of the tour’s most exciting young players.
Both Alcaraz and Ruud were playing their maiden Masters 1000 final. They had faced off once previously, almost exactly a year ago in the quarter-finals of the Marbella Challenger where the Spanish teenager won 6-2 6-4. It was the world No 8 who started strong this time around, quickly going 3-0 up as he fired forehands at an average speed of 91mph.
At 3-1, Ruud found himself at deuce from 40-0 up and gave away a break point by letting a shot go that was comfortably in but he managed to hold on. Alcaraz persisted and set up two more break points in the sixth seed’s very next game, converting the second as Ruud sent a ball long to get himself back on serve.
There was a classy gesture from Ruud when the 18-year-old was forced to replace two dead balls when he had a second serve at 3-4, and the Norwegian gifted his opponent a first serve following the lengthy break. Ruud won the point but Alcaraz went on to hold for 4-4, completing a string of three successive games.
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Both men held onto their next two games when the world No 16 pounced at a crucial moment, breaking at 5-5 to give himself the chance to serve for the set as the crowd went wild and chants of ‘ole’ could be heard ringing out through the Hard Rock Stadium. Alcaraz managed to save a break point as he served out the set, taking it 7-5 in 61 minutes after starting a break down.
The 14th seed carried his momentum into the second set, creating break point chances in the very first game and managing to capitalise on his third to lead the first set 1-0 with the break after an 11-minute game. He backed it up with a love-hold and broke once more to lead 3-0, having now won 10 of the last 12 games after going 0-3 down.
It was then the Spaniard’s turn to face six break points as Ruud gave himself a lifeline, closing the gap in the second set by breaking for 1-3 before calling for the trainer who arrived on court at the next changeover with the sixth seed trailing 2-3. Now only a single break down in the second set, Ruud had a medical time out for what appeared to be a hip injury but it didn’t appear to have the desired effect as Alcaraz needed just 77 seconds to win the next game.
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Both men continued to hold until 5-4, with the 18-year-old now facing the biggest moment of his career as he stepped up to serve for his maiden Masters 1000 final. And it was a perfect finish for Alcaraz, who served out a 7-5 6-4 victory to love, becoming the 2022 Miami Open champion.
It makes the Spaniard the youngest men’s singles champion in the history of the Miami Open, just a month shy of his 19th birthday. He was the second-youngest finalist behind Rafael Nadal in 2005, who was around a month younger than Alcaraz is now, but Nadal lost that championship match to Roger Federer. He is also the third-youngest Masters champion in history behind Michael Chang at the 1990 Canada Open and Nadal at the 2005 Monte Carlo Masters.
Alcaraz will now rise to world No 11 as a result of his title win in Miami, knocking on the door of the top 10. Ahead of the 2022 season he eyed cracking the world’s top 15 by the end of the year as his main goal but has already exceeded it just four months in.