Carlos Alcaraz kisses the US Open trophy after defeating Casper Ruud in the final. / AFP

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz claims first Grand Slam at the US Open tennis and becomes youngest ever world number one

The 19-year-old Spaniard defeated Norwegian Casper Ruud in four sets (6-4, 2-6, 7-6 and 6-3) on Sunday night

ENRIC GARDINER

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz made history on Sunday night as he became the youngest ever world number 1 tennis player and claimed his maiden Grand Slam after beating Casper Ruud in four sets (6-4, 2-6, 7-6 and 6-3) at the US Open final.

The 19-year-old player from El Palmar, in Murcia, completed a journey that started a little under a year ago, when he burst onto the scene and dreamed of placing himself into the top ten.

Alcaraz proved that he is a competitive beast and that neither fatigue, physical exhaustion nor the nerves of being in a first Grand Slam final affected him. If anything, the youngster was better prepared mentally than his oppponent and he showed maturity beyond his years.

The El Palmer local was the first to get the upper hand, breaking Ruud's serve in the first set after several opening games had the pair in a stalemate. After Alcaraz's break, he took the first set 6-4 and wasn't particularly impressive - but he didn't need to be.

Excessive confidence

Alcaraz could feel that he was on top and and excess in confidence began to hinder him, causing several close calls that would have gone against him. One particular bad shot enabled Ruud to go 4-2 up in the second set and eventually win it 6-2.

The young Spaniard, who had a firm grip on the match, made several errors that allowed the Norwegian to believe that he was still in it. The key moment came in the third set when Alcaraz squandered a game point that would have put him 3-0 up on his opponent.

Ruud slowly chipped away at Alcaraz and put himself in a brilliant position in the twelfth game, as he had two set points that the Spaniard barely denied; he ran twice to the net to save his set in typical Alcaraz style.

It was like a shot of adrelnaline for the El Palmar player. He forced a tie break, his fifth of the tournament, and won seven of the eight points that the duo played to take the second set - he was one step closer to winning.

Aces for the win

It was now Alcaraz's time to shine. He wasn't going to make any more mistakes and he was about to find out what it's like to become a champion. There could have been doubts about him being nervous or if he was shaking from the pressure.

But no he resolved the match with aces. Seven of them in his final three services games which propelled him to first first Grand Slam title and to the very top of the world rankings.

He dropped to the clay court floor, physically exhausted from his effort, and began to cry with happiness before congratulating Ruud on the match and rushing to the stands to be with his family.