A King Is Crowned: Alcaraz Wins US Open And Becomes Youngest World No. 1

Carlos Alcaraz (photo: Darren Carroll/USTA)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, September 12, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud met in an unprecedented US Open men’s singles final Sunday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. It took place on the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. What began under somber tones of remembrance turned into a celebration and coronation by the end for Alcaraz, the brightest young star in tennis.

In the first final featuring two men competing for both their first Grand Slam title and the World No. 1 ranking – and neither have been ranked No. 1 before – the World No. 4 and third seed Alcaraz beat World No. 7 and fifth seed Ruud, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3, in three hours and 20 minutes with the roof closed on Arthur Ashe Stadium due to the threat of rain.

The outcome marked a changing of the guard in men’s tennis. After all, this is the first post-US Open change at No. 1 since 2003, when Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferraro, rose to No. 1. With his rise to No. 1, Alcaraz became the fourth Spaniard to be ranked No. 1, along with Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal, and the youngest since Nadal won the French Open in 2005 at age 19. He’s also the youngest US Open champion since Pete Sampras won at age 19 in 1990. Not bad for someone who a year ago was ranked 55th in the world.

As the 19-year-old Alcaraz made his bid to become the youngest and first teen-aged World No. 1 since computerized rankings were introduced in 1973, Ruud, 23, was attempting to make the biggest jump to No. 1 in history as well as to be the first Norwegian No. 1. Instead, as consolation, Ruud will rise from No. 7 to a career-high of World No. 2. He reached the finals of two Grand Slams this season – losing to Nadal at the French Open and to Alcaraz in New York.

With Alcaraz serving for the title, ahead two sets to one and 5-3 in the fourth, he began with his 14th ace and followed it up with a forehand volley winner. While he erred with an easy-looking forehand smash into the net, he gained two championship points with another ace. After overhitting a forehand, Alcaraz followed with a service winner and dropped to the court in tears of both joy and relief. He became the third Spaniard to win the US Open joining Manuel Orantes and Nadal.

Soon, after Alcaraz shared congratulations and a warm embrace at the net with Ruud that was met with thunderous applause from another capacity crowd of 23,859, he sprinted across the court and climbed into his team’s box to celebrate with Ferraro and others.

“It is something I have dreamed of since I was a kid. To be No. 1 in the world, to be champion of a Grand Slam, is something I have worked really, really hard [for],” Alcaraz said during the trophy ceremony in an interview with ESPN‘s Chris McKendry. “It is tough to talk right now, I have lots of emotions. This is something I have tried to achieve. All the hard work I have done with my team and my family. I am just 19 years old, all the tough decisions have been with my parents and my team as well. It is something that is really special to me.”

Looking back on the New York fortnight, one that was highlighted by three consecutive five-set matches – against No. 15 seed Marin Cilic, No. 11 seed Jannik Sinner and No. 22 seed Frances Tiafoe – all won by Alcaraz just to reach his first major final, he spent a total of 20 hours and 19 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium across the first six rounds to reach championship Sunday. However, he kept some energy in reserve for Ruud in the final. By the end, in a city that doesn’t sleep, Alcaraz spent 23 hours and 39 minutes on court, which surpassed Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon in 2018 for the most time played in a single Grand Slam event.

“There is no time to be tired in the final rounds of a Grand Slam,” Alcaraz said. “You have to be ready and give everything you have inside. It is something I work really hard for.”

Alcaraz, who won 74 percent of his first-serve points, hit 14 aces and struck 55 winners to 41 unforced errors against Ruud. He converted three of 11 break points and outpointed his opponent 127-122. Ruud countered with 37 winners and made 29 unforced errors. He broke Alcaraz three times in 10 tries. The victory improved the Spaniard’s career head-to-head against Ruud to 3-0, which included a title victory at the Miami Open in March.

“Today was a special evening. Both Carlos and I knew what we were playing for and what was at stake,” Ruud said in accepting his runner-up trophy. “We will be No. 2 and No. 1 in the world tomorrow. I think it is fitting. I am disappointed of course that I am not No. 1, but No. 2 is not bad either. I am happy with that number and I will continue to chase for my first Grand Slam title and No. 1 ranking.”

After lifting the champion’s trophy Sunday night in New York, Alcaraz has now won an ATP Tour-leading five titles in 2022, including a pair of Masters 1000 crowns in Miami and Madrid. Earlier, Alcaraz qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Krejcikova and Siniakova complete career Grand Slam with US Open title

Third-seeded Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova made history by winning the US Open title, their sixth major crown. They completed a career Grand Slam with their comeback 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over unseeded Americans Taylor Townsend and Caty McNally Sunday afternoon on Arthur Ashe Stadium. They won 12 of the final 14 games of the two hour, 10 minute match.

“This journey is so long and I’m so happy we keep going,” Siniakova said. “We’re trying to improve and I appreciate it that we’re still playing together and that things are going well.”

Added Krejcikova: “I don’t know how this is happening. I found the season really difficult, especially this match. It was really hard for us, and the level was pretty high from both sides. At the end, I was just trying to fight and it’s amazing that we won another Slam and that our team is doing great, great stuff.”

Krejcikova and Siniakova, who have teamed since juniors, have also won two titles at Roland Garros (2018 and 2021), two at Wimbledon (2018 and 2022) and an Australian Open title (2022). They join a quartet of other distinguished teams that have won all four majors: Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, Serena and Venus Williams, Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva, and Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

Last year, they also teamed to win an Olympic gold medal. So both Krejcikova and Siniakova have now won a career Golden Slam. This year, they finished the Grand Slam season with an unbeaten 18-0 record.

Siniakova, who has won 18 career doubles titles, will return to WTA Doubles World No. 1 this week. Krejcikova, a winner of 13 doubles crowns who has also been No. 1, will rise again to World No. 2.

McNally, who reached last year’s final last year with Coco Gauff, and Townsend were attempting to become the first all-American pair to win the doubles title at the US Open since Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in 2011.

Sunday’s US Open results

By the numbers

• Regardless of the outcome between Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud in the championship final, by winning Alcaraz assured this would be the fifth straight year with a new US Open men’s champion and 10th in the last 15 years.

• Alcaraz becomes the 28th player to reach World No. 1 and the sixth active player. He joins Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Daniil Medvedev. He is also the 152nd Grand Slam men’s singles champion and 57th of the Open Era.

• Alcaraz (19) and Ruud (23) have become the second youngest Top 2 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. They trail only Jimmy Connors (22) and Bjorn Borg (18), who were No. 1 and No. 2 in 1975.

“Quotable …”

“Hopefully I wont have to play another Spaniard in a Slam final; they know what they’re doing in these matches.”

Casper Ruud of Norway, in remarks during his post-match press conference, in reference to having lost two major titles this year – both to Spaniards, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz.