From Wild Card to World-Class: Carlos Alcaraz's Rio Success Story



by JOVICA ILIC

From Wild Card to World-Class: Carlos Alcaraz's Rio Success Story

On Monday, 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz will kick off his 23rd week as world no. 1! The winner of ten ATP titles will be the top seed at Roland Garros for the first time, seeking the title against Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Holger Rune.

Carlos made a meteoric rise toward the ATP throne, and it all started for him in February 2020! Three months earlier, the 16-year-old Spaniard received the main draw wild card at the ATP 500 event in Rio de Janeiro thanks to his IMG links.

The 7th edition of the Rio Open at the Jockey Club Brasileiro took place between February 17-23, 2020, and the organizers did not waste time signing the upcoming tennis king! Thus, Carlos got a chance to make his ATP debut on the big scene before his 17th birthday, and he took it with both hands.

Alcaraz was the only top-500 player born in 2003 when he received the invitation, with seven Challenger wins by his name and the first Futures title in July! In February 2018, Alcaraz qualified for the first professional tournament at home Spain F5 Futures in Murcia at 14.

He passed three rivals to find himself in the main draw, already doing impressive things. Carlos grabbed two triumphs, reaching the quarter-final and becoming the first player born in 2003 on the ATP ranking list! The young gun made a strong start to the 2019 season, reaching the semi-final at the M15 Palmanova event and earning his first Challenger win in Alicante in April, still at 15!

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 the Seville Challenger, battling for almost three hours against the player ranked 120th and showing his full potential.

The young gun started the 2020 season with back-to-back Challenger titles in Manacor. He reached another final in Antalya before heading toward Rio for his ATP debut.

Carlos Alcaraz received his first ATP invitation in December 2019.

Carlos stepped on the court on Monday, February 17, 2020, and made it memorable.

Alcaraz pushed Albert Ramos-Vinolas to the limits for three hours and 36 minutes and stunned the more experienced compatriot 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, celebrating his first ATP win at 3:00 am! A teenager hit over 50 winners and 60 unforced errors, keeping the points on his racquet and enduring all the obstacles to emerge at the top.

Ramos-Vinolas broke the youngster five times from 15 chances. Carlos converted four out of 19 break points and played better in the decisive moments to seal the deal. The opening set lasted over 80 minutes, and Carlos squandered two set points in the 12th game.

He stayed calm and clinched the breaker 7-2 with a beautiful volley winner. Ramos-Vinolas grabbed two breaks in set number two for 6-4, using Alcaraz's double fault in the tenth game to force a decider. Albert gained a boost and moved 3-0 up, looking good to break the rival's resistance and march toward the finish line.

Instead, Carlos bounced back in the fourth game to avoid another break, rattling off five straight games to open a 5-3 gap. Ramos-Vinolas saved two match points on serve in the ninth game, and Alcaraz served for the win at 5-4.

The 16-year-old was broken at love to keep Albert in contention, and the match went into a tie-breaker. The youngster started all over and clinched it 7-2 to celebrate his first out of many ATP wins at 16.

Carlos Alcaraz