2022 in Review: Carlos Alcaraz wins Rio and passes Rafael Nadal

Tennis - Carlos claimed his first ATP 500 title in Rio de Janeiro in February

by Jovica Ilic
2022 in Review: Carlos Alcaraz wins Rio and passes Rafael Nadal

The 16-year-old Carlos Alcaraz kicked off the 2020 season with a 14-1 score at Futures, receiving the ATP 500 Rio wild card for his ATP debut. Ranked 406th, the young Spaniard toppled the more experienced compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the deciding tie break to secure his first ATP victory and make a name for himself.

Two years later, Carlos went to Rio as world no. 29 following incredible progress, standing as one of the title favorites despite a strong field. The young gun went all the way and took down Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman.

Thus, he earned his second ATP title and became the youngest ATP 500 champion since the series started in 2009! Alcaraz ousted Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 in the title clash and earned 500 ATP points that pushed him inside the top-20 for the first time in a career.

Carlos is the third-youngest top-20 player since 1990 after Andrei Medvedev and Pete Sampras, achieving the feat a couple of weeks before Rafael Nadal did that in 2005! Alcaraz needed an hour and 27 minutes to beat Schwartzman, rattling off nine of the last 11 games to leave a former champion behind and lift the trophy.

The Spaniard hit 21 winners and eight unforced errors. He dominated with his forehand and mixed his strokes superbly to overpower the Argentine and enter history books. Diego claimed the opening game with a volley winner at the net and broke a teenager in game two following Carlos' loose forehand.

Alcaraz broke back at 15 in game three and placed a perfect drop shot for 2-2 and a boost. The Spaniard closed the sixth game with another drop shot winner and locked the result at 4-4 with a deep backhand that forced the rival's error.

Carlos Alcaraz claimed his first ATP 500 title in Rio on clay.

Carlos placed a volley winner in the ninth game to earn two break points and painted a backhand crosscourt winner on the first to move in front. Serving for the opener at 5-4, Alcaraz placed a perfect lob winner to seize it in style and gain a boost.

The Spaniard broke with a drop shot winner at the start of the second set before netting a forehand in game two to hand it to his opponent. Carlos cracked a crosscourt forehand in the third game to secure another return game and held with a service winner to open a 3-1 gap.

With nothing working his way, Schwartzman lost serve at love in game five to push the youngster closer to the finish line. Alcaraz moved 5-1 in front with a drop shot that forced Schwartzman's mistake and served for the title at 5-2.

A teenager held with a service winner to seal the deal and start a massive celebration of his producest moment up to that point, with plenty more coming soon.

Carlos Alcaraz Rafael Nadal