The 16-year-old Carlos Alcaraz has been the most accomplished player born in 2003 so far, scoring seven Challenger victories and claiming the first professional title in Denia in July last year. The biggest hope of Spanish tennis became the eighth-youngest Futures champion, achieving the feat just a month older than Rafael Nadal when he claimed the first professional crown in 2002 and showing his full potential at such a young age!
In February 2018, Alcaraz qualified for the first professional tournament at home Spain F5 Futures in Murcia at the age of 14, passing three rivals just to find himself in the main draw where he grabbed two triumphs, reaching the quarter-final and becoming the first player born in 2003 on the ATP ranking list!
Last January, Carlos was the semi-finalist at the M15 Palmanova event, still at 15, followed by the first Challenger win in Alicante in April, delivering the milestone achievement for his generation at this level of competition.
A week later, Alcaraz notched two victories at Murcia Challenger for more points on his tally, standing as one of the youngest players on the reduced ATP ranking list. In September, the El Palmar native advanced into the quarter-final at Seville Challenger, battling for almost three hours against the player ranked 120th and proving his quality ahead of the new season that has been the best possible one for him so far.
The youngster won back-to-back Futures titles at Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor and reached another final, standing on the verge of the top-400 ahead of the ATP debut in Rio de Janeiro where he earned a wild card. Stepping on the court at around 11:30 p.m.
on Monday, the 16-year-old took down a former Monte Carlo finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in three hours and 36 minutes, finishing the job at 3 a.m. with the first ATP victory under his belt! As many times before, Carlos added another milestone for his generation, becoming the first player born in 2003 with a win at the ATP tournament, showing no signs of nerves against a much older and experienced rival.
Hitting more than 50 winners and 60 unforced errors, Alcaraz kept the points on his racquet and dictated the pace, wining one point more than Ramos-Vinolas and prevailing in the deciding tie break. Thanks to that second set, Albert claimed five breaks from 15 chances, facing 19 break points and giving serve away four times, enough for Alcaraz to cross the finish line first and celebrate an emotional triumph.
The opening set lasted for more than 80 minutes and it was the youngster who won it 7-2, wasting two set points in the 12th game before taking the breaker with a beautiful volley winner. Ramos-Vinolas grabbed two breaks in set number two for a 6-4 and moved 3-0 up in the decider, looking good to break the rival's resistance and march towards the finish line.
Instead of that, Carlos bounced back to rattle off five straight games, delivering breaks in games five and seven and squandering two match points on the return at 5-4. Serving for the victory, the 16-year-old got broken at love to keep Albert in contention, sending the set into a tie break where Alcaraz started all over, clinching it 7-2 to earn the first ATP win in a thrilling style.
"I like to play very aggressively, with a lot of winners. My idol is Rafael Nadal but I play more or less like Roger Federer, aggressively coming to the net and with a lot of drop shots," Alcaraz said. "When I spend time with tennis greats like Rafael Nadal or Juan Carlos Ferrero or any other player, I usually don't say much.
I listen to everything they say because it is precious to me. In each tournament I enter, I try to do my best; if that happens, then I will gradually go up."