In the same clay court where two years ago he won his first ATP Tour match, Carlos Alcaraz once again made history in Rio de Janeiro.
The rising Spanish star stunned 2018 champion Diego Schwartzman by 6/4 and 6/2, won the eighth edition of the Rio Open and at, 18 years old, became the youngest ATP 500 champion since the category was created in 2009 _before him Italian Jannik Sinner was the youngest after winning the Washington D.C. title last year, at 19.
With the victory Alcaraz is projected to reach number 20 in the world ranking _he is currently ranked 29.
“I’m super happy and it means a lot that I won my first ATP 500 title here in Rio. My goal now is not to leave the Top 20 and keep improving. I’m playing some tournaments that I didn’t last year so that’s a great opportunity to do that. Winning here gives me motivation and confidence. I always arrive at the tournaments thinking that I can win, even if the best are playing. I dream big. I wanna be world’s number one, I want to win Grand Slams and Olympic medals”, said the Spaniard right after winning his second ATP level title _the first was in Umag, in 2021
Playing his first-ever ATP 500 final, he was down 2-0 ate the first set but had no problem to score 6/4 in 44 minutes. Second set was even easier for the teenager and in 42 minutes he scored 6/2.
“I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the match and I knew Diego was going to be a tough opponent. He knows how to win titles and play finals. But I guess I showed how mature I am and I managed to calm my nerves and stayed mentally strong”, added Alcaraz.
Schwartzman, who came from a semifinal in Cordoba and a final in Buenos Aires in the past two weeks, praised Alcaraz.
“I want to congratulate Carlos. He is so young and impressive. He’s great for the sport. He’s not the future, he already is the present of the sport and it’s great to see. The truth is he was better than me today and he deserved the title from the beginning. I’m sure this is just the first of many. I hope to get a revenge in the future”, said Schwartzman, 29, is currently ranked 14 in the world and has five titles under his belt.
On the way to the final, seventh seed Alcaraz defeated top seed and world’s number six Matteo Berrettini at the quarterfinals. He also stunned 2015 Rio Open finalist Fabio Fognini in the semifinal. Both on the same day.
The Spaniard, youngest member of the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings, enjoyed a standout 2021 season, soaring from outside the Top 100 to number 32 as he captured his maiden tour-level title in Umag. He ended the season by winning the Next Gen ATP Finals.
“I have no words to describe the support I had here in Rio all week long. It’s my second time here and to he honest I was not expecting that. I felt home and I really want to thank them all for the support. It’s a great tournament and I hope to come back many more times.”
Schwartzman also thanked the crowd in Rio. “I felt home in Brazil which is something rare for an Argentine. It was very emotional for me and it was amazing to see people there cheering even when the rain hit.”