Carlos Alcaraz is being hailed across the tennis world after clinching an incredible slice of history by winning the Rio Open in Brazil.
The 18-year-old Spaniard beat Argentine third-seed Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-2 in less than 90 minutes in the clay-court final to rocket into the world's top 20 for the first time.
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In doing so, Alcaraz became the youngest ever winner of an ATP 500 event, since the category was created in 2009.
The ATP 500 events are the fourth-highest tier of competition in men's tennis outside the four majors, the ATP Finals and the ATP Tour Masters 1000 events.
"I can't believe it, honestly. It has been a great week for me playing a great level," Alcaraz said in his on-court interview.
"First tournament on clay since a long time, so I'm really happy with the performance during the whole week. It's an amazing feeling right now."
The seventh-seeded Alcaraz won his first professional match in Rio de Janeiro two years ago and his first tournament last year at Umag, Croatia, also on clay.
Alcaraz's path to the title included upsetting top seed Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals and then beating another Italian, Fabio Fognini, in the semi-finals.
Fitness was a key element of Sunday's final after both Alcaraz and Schwartzman played twice on Saturday due to fixture congestion caused by heavy rain during the week.
Already tipped by many good judges to be a future grand slam winner, Alcaraz's latest slice of history has sent tennis fans into meltdown.
18 years old Carlos Alcaraz beats Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 to win his 2nd (and biggest) career title in Rio de Janeiro.
He is the youngest ever player to win an ATP 500.
Alcaraz will be a top 20 player tomorrow.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 20, 2022
18-year-old Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz beats Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 to win ATP 500 Rio de Janeiro.
Also beating Matteo Berrettini this week en route to the title, Alcaraz has announced himself as very much "now," not "next."
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) February 20, 2022
Just in case you somehow still weren’t aware, Carlos Alcaraz isn’t just the future of men’s tennis, he’s the NOW of men’s tennis 👏🏻 #RioOpen
— GameSetMatch 🎾 (@Tennis20MAD) February 20, 2022
— Radhakrishnan (@beardnotes) February 20, 2022
God how strong he is! 💪
Carlos Alcaraz claims his 1st ATP 500 title in Rio at 18 years-old dominating Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-2 pic.twitter.com/EDxXTeUveN
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) February 20, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz youngest player in the top 20 ATP rankings!!! What a legend pic.twitter.com/3ZEZMC0w2u
— jessie (@smithrcwes) February 20, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz is a very rare breed. He is really special. I’m all in on him.
— Vansh (@vanshv2k) February 20, 2022
🇪🇸BIRDMAN. OF. ALCARAZ.🇪🇸
Carlos Alcaraz defeats Diego Schwartzman in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 to win the Rio Open.
This is Alcaraz's first ATP 500 title.
At the age of 18 years old.
This kid is going places.#ATPRio #tennis pic.twitter.com/iAUVIhaKCZ
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) February 20, 2022
The boy Carlos Alcaraz is playing right now is gonna be world #1 someday what a player you heard it here first
— Vic 🐊 | #3inParis (@limuzinaxd) February 20, 2022
CARLOS ALCARAZ IS THE FUTURE ✨ pic.twitter.com/2PZI2VERY6
— maryna 🏁 (@angelmarynax) February 20, 2022
Andrey Rublev, Cameron Norrie also claim titles
In Marseille, Andrey Rublev was crowned champion of the Open 13 Provence by gaining revenge over Felix Auger-Aliassime in a hard-fought final.
Auger-Aliassime defeated Rublev in Rotterdam last week on the way to securing his maiden ATP Tour title but the Russian world No.7 responded on Sunday with a 7-5 7-6 (7-4) victory.
Rublev held his nerve in the tiebreaker against the ninth-ranked Canadian after failing to serve out the match, to eventually seal his ninth tour-level triumph and improve his record in finals on indoor hard courts to 5-0.
"I had to increase my level otherwise I would have had no chance against Felix," Rublev said afterwards.
"From 5-4, Felix started to play even better and I was thinking it would go to three sets.
"But somehow I was able to raise my level and, in the end, it was tough."
Elsewhere, Cameron Norrie brushed off a sluggish start to the new season with an ATP 250 title in the United States.
The Brit's year started off slowly, with four consecutive losses, but he has found his stride since then to jump up to a career high 12th in the rankings.
The British top seed secured his third main-tour title with a 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (7-4) win over Reilly Opelka in the Delray Beach Open decider.
All three of those titles for Norrie have come in the past seven months, after he won at Los Cabos in July and then Indian Wells in October.
Norrie — who was only 2-5 in 2022 entering this tournament — also had to do it the hard way against the big-serving second seed Opelka, who piled up 25 aces.
Opelka had won 14 of his past 17 tiebreakers before Sunday, when Norrie — who did not face a break points all match - managed to win two of them.
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