The Japan Times

Rising star Alcaraz makes statement with Madrid title


Teenager Carlos Alcaraz continued his blazing rise by demolishin­g Alexander Zverev in the Madrid final on Sunday and then said he really wants to “prove my level in a Grand Slam.”

Two weeks before the start of the French Open, the young Spaniard brushed aside his third-ranked foe 6-3, 6-1 in 62 minutes to continue a run that signals tennis has a new star on the rise.

“I really want to go to Paris to win a Grand Slam, to show my level in a Grand Slam,” Alcaraz said at a news conference after winning the second Masters 1000 of his career.

“People are going to take me as a favorite, but I take that as motivation.”

He said he will miss the Rome claycourt tournament this week after injuring an ankle during his win over Rafael Nadal in the quarterfin­als on Friday.

“This morning, because of the fall against Rafa, I woke up with a more swollen ankle and I also had a blister that had become infected,” he said.

“It was a little difficult to walk, but ... we were able to do a few things to be at 100% for the match.”

Before the Madrid tournament last year, Alcaraz was ranked 120th in the world. On Monday he will be sixth.

“I have five more to go to be the best in the world,” he said.

The only younger player to claim two Masters 1000 titles was Nadal, who won in Monte Carlo and Rome when he was 18.

Alcaraz turned 19 on Thursday and over the next two days battled past Nadal in 2 hours, 28 minutes and Novak Djokovic in 3 hours, 36 minutes.

“I am 19 years old, which I think is the key to be able to play long and tough matches in a row,” he said. “I am feeling great physically.”

“It feels great to be able to beat these players. To beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the world No. 3., he is a great player. I would say this is the best week of my life.”

Zverev had no doubt where the teenager’s trajectory is heading.

“It’s great to see for tennis that we have such a new superstar who is going to win so many Grand Slams and is going to be world No. 1,” the German said.

The atmosphere on Sunday did not reach the fervor of the day before, as Alcaraz grabbed control early and cruised to his quickest victory of the week.

Even so, “it was a spectacula­r atmosphere,” he told the crowd at the end.

“This tournament is special for me because it’s the first tournament I watched when I was seven or eight,” Alcaraz said.

“Watching Rafa lift this trophy so often, gave me a lot of power to work hard for this moment.”

 ?? REUTERS ?? Madrid Open winner Carlos Alcaraz (left) celebrates with runner-up Alexander Zverev after the final on Sunday.
REUTERS Madrid Open winner Carlos Alcaraz (left) celebrates with runner-up Alexander Zverev after the final on Sunday.

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