Rio de Janeiro | Alcaraz becomes youngest 500 champion

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Much is expected over the coming years from the Spanish 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz who beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in two high quality sets in the Rio Open final to become the youngest ATP 500 champion ever.

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 Carlos Alcaraz

Looking faster, stronger and fitter than his 29-year-old opponent, Alcaraz lived up to his reputation as the ‘New Nadal’ – a description he dislikes – as he took out the Argentinian experienced clay-courter 6-4 6-2.

“I can’t believe it, it’s a great feeling. Despite all the difficulties, it’s been a spectacular tournament,” Alcaraz said after claiming the second title of his career, following Umag last July which was also held on clay.

“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 win should bolster his world ranking some 10 places from 29 to 19.

“It has been a tough week,” Alcaraz added after withdrawing from this week’s ATP 500 tournament on the hardcourts in Acapulco, Mexico, due to a slight niggle.

“To be in the top 20 was a goal for me at the end of the year (2021) and to be able to do that at the beginning is amazing.”

Alcaraz broke Schwartzman’s serve twice in the first set and started the second set with another break as he maintained his dominance in the match with his serving.

Alcaraz reached the final beating world No.38 Fabio Fognini in the semi-finals after defeating world No. 6 Matteo Berrettini in the quarters – both matches played on Saturday due to rain delays during the week.

Schwartzman, who was playing the 14th final of his career, looked more tired after Saturday’s double header, which for him ran to a total five and a half hours on court but when the new rankings are released, he is expected to move up one spot to 13.

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