Carlos Alcaraz Wins U.S. Open and Gains World’s Top Ranking

James Lian '23

Carlos Alcaraz, a 19-year-old tennis phenomenon, entered the U.S. Open as the #3 seed, trailing Rafael Nadal and defending champion Daniil Medvedev. He has had a breakthrough year thus far with the most wins on the professional tour at 44 to go along with five titles. However, many people doubted his form going into this tournament, as he had just suffered two very disappointing losses at the Montreal and Cincinnati Open. In Montreal, he lost in the first round to unseeded American Tommy Paul, and in Cincinnati, he fell short to 9-seeded Cameron Norrie in the quarterfinals. Given that he was not performing up to his usual standard, it was not a surprise that many people thought Medvedev or Nadal would be holding the trophy at the end of the tournament. 

In the first three rounds of the U.S. Open, Alcaraz blew past his opponents, winning all nine sets. However, the Round of 16 is where the lack of experience began to show. He faced former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, whom he had already beaten in Cincinnati two weeks prior. This time around was different from Cincinnati, as Alcaraz was down a break of serve in the final set, and it looked like his U.S. Open run was about to be cut short. However, Alcaraz had other plans and stormed back from a break down to win the set and the match. 

In his next round, Alcaraz had a very similar match against another young star in Jannik Sinner. After winning the first set, Alcaraz lost two sets in a row and faced a match point in the fourth set. Similar to the match against Cilic, the young pro fought back to take the fourth set and ultimately the match. This quarterfinal between the two went down in U.S. Open history as the second longest match ever played at the tournament, and both players were praised for the effort by tennis fans across the world.

Entering the semifinal, Alcaraz was faced with the task of American Frances Tiafoe, who had taken out Rafael Nadal in the Round of 16. This was by no means an easier encounter than the previous two matches, as he had to go the distance and win in five sets for the third consecutive time. 

With only one more match to go, Alcaraz was fighting for not only the first U.S. Open title of his young career but he was also playing for the world’s number one ranking. He would face Norway’s Casper Ruud, who was in the exact same situation as Alcaraz and would gain the world’s top ranking if he managed to defeat the Spaniard. 

Even if he was tired, Alcaraz showed no signs of fatigue. He came into the match firing on all cylinders and maintained his high level to win the match in four sets. With this victory, Alcaraz became the youngest man to gain the top ranking on the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) tour since the rankings were introduced in 1973. Along with this achievement, he also joined elite company by becoming the youngest player to win a major title since Rafael Nadal did it in 2005 at the French Open.

This is only the beginning of Alcaraz’s career, and we are all here to witness what the future has in store for the wunderkind.