Carlos Alcaraz Becomes Youngest Miami Masters Champion In History At 18 - UBITENNIS
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Carlos Alcaraz Becomes Youngest Miami Masters Champion In History At 18

The teenage sensation is now on the verge of breaking into the world’s top 10 after his record-breaking win.

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Image via ATP twitter

Carlos Alcaraz completed his dream run at the Miami Open by defeating Casper Ruud in straight sets to win the Miami Open and become the third youngest player in history to claim a Masters 1000 title.

The 18-year-old rising star rallied his way to a 7-5, 6-4, win over the world No.8 to record just his seventh win over a top 10 player in his young career. Alcaraz appeared tentative early on in the final before carefully working his way into the match. Producing a series of blistering forehand shots and effectively utilizing the drop shot to his advantage. In total he won 75% (36/48) of his first serves.

“It’s pretty soon to describe my feelings right now,” Alcaraz said during his on-court interview. ”I mean, I have no words to describe how I feel.’
“It’s so special for me to win my first Masters 1000 (title) in Miami. I’m so happy with my win and with my team.”

The showdown featured two players taking part in the final of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in their careers. Alcaraz, who is five years younger than Ruud, started the match visibly nervous. Best illustrated by the fact he hit four forehand unforced errors during his opening service game which he dropped. Meanwhile, Ruud was throwing all he had in his shotmaking and at one point in the opening set was averaging a forehand top spin speed of 92mph as he worked his way to a 4-1 lead.

Spurred on by an animated crowd, the teenager battled back valiantly. With his third break point opportunity in the match, Alcaraz converted with the help of a tight-looking Ruud mis-hit to close the deficit to 4-3 before drawing level. Heading towards the business end of the set, the Spaniard struck once again. At 5-5, a blistering 102mph Alcaraz forehand earned him yet another break point which he converted following an error from his opponent. Then tasked with serving to take the opener, the youngster prevailed on his third set point after hitting a smash at the net.

Historically very few players of Alcaraz’s age have ever found themselves in a similar situation to him. Only his idol Rafael Nadal and Michael Chang has ever won a Masters 1000 title at a younger age than him. Nevertheless, he never appeared to be fazed by the occasion. At the start of the second frame he broke instantly with a masterful lob before producing a love service game to extend his lead over Ruud to a set and 2-0.

Alcaraz’s surge suggested that he would charge towards the finish line but admirbally Ruud continued fighting. Down 0-3, the Norwegian came through a marathon service game to retrieve one of the breaks and soon after took a medical time out for treatment on his hip region.

Resuming the match, Alcaraz refused to relinquish his lead as he worked his way to a game away from the biggest title of his career. A serve out wide returned out by Ruud granted him a trio of championship points. He only needed his first to triumph after hitting a winning backhand volley at the net.

“I knew Casper has a big forehand and I tried to play to his backhand all the time. Trying to not let him dominate the match,” the new champion said of the tactics he used.

In the immediate aftermath of the triumph, Alcaraz wrote ‘Eduardo always with us’ on the camera screen in tribute to the late father of his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero who passed away in recent days. Ferrero returned to Miami only yesterday to surprise the tennis star after driving four hours to Madrid airport in order to get a direct flight. A heartwarming video of the two greeting each other was posted on social media.

Ruud is the fourth seeded player to lose to Alcaraz in Miami. Earlier in the draw, the teenager scored straight sets wins over former US Open champion Marin Cilic, third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2021 champion Herbert Hurkacz.

I want to congratulate Carlos. You’re such a good player already. You’re so young and if you continue like this you will stand here (on the podium) many more times, I’m sure of it,” said Ruud.
“You’re a super nice guy, a hard worker and I wish you and your team all the best.”

Alcaraz, who is the first Spanish player in history to win Miami, will rise to world No.11 when the ATP rankings are updated on Monday. So far this season he has won 18 out of 20 matches played.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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