Carlos Alcaraz makes history with Rio Open final win by becoming youngest ATP 500 title winner

Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest player since 2009 to win an ATP 500 event with his win in the Rio Open final.

Carlos Alcaraz after winning the Rio Open. (Twitter: @RioOpenOficial)

18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz stunned the tennis world when he beat Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the Rio Open on Sunday (February 20).

Alcaraz became the youngest player since 2009 to win an ATP 500 event – incidentally, 2009 was the year this level of event was first created.

This is also his second ATP title following his maiden title win at Umag last year. It is also worth noting that Alcaraz’s first win at ATP level came at this very event two years ago.

“I can’t believe it, honestly. It has been a great week for me playing a great level,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview.

“First tournament on clay since a long time, so I’m really happy with the performance during the whole week. It’s an amazing feeling right now.”

Amazing was one way to describe his performance; Alcaraz overwhelmed his more experienced opponent, with Schwartzman often looking lost for answers.

Indeed, the young Spaniard won 12 of the final 16 games en route to a straight sets victory in the final. Although it’s worth noting he didn’t entirely have things his way.

In the opening set, the two traded game wins on serve until it was 4-4. Alcaraz finally got the break and then held serve thereafter to take the first set.

He immediately broke the Argentine in the second set but Schwartzman hit back with a break of his own right after.

That might have halted the Spaniard’s momentum; instead, he dug deep and ensured it was nothing more than a speed bump.

He broke serve again and then dominated the remainder of the match, closing out the second set 6-2 to write his name in the record books.

‘Varied game key to win’ – Carlos Alcaraz

What was notable about the win was how Alcaraz varied his game. His baseline game remained strong but he didn’t just stick to that aspect.

He utilised drop shots when needed and did not hesitate to run to the nets and volley. Alcaraz explained afterwards this was ‘key’ to his win.

“I think this is my game. It’s a lot of variety. It’s the key [to how] I won the match,” Alcaraz said. “I know how Diego plays and this was really important for me.”

Alcaraz is now expected to move into the top 20 of the rankings for the first time in his career.

For his part, Schwartzman looked to focus on the bright side of things after the loss.

“I think the South American clay season gives me a lot of confidence, points and rhythm,” he stated after the match.

“After Australia, I went back home not feeling very well. Physically I finished not in the best way in the first tournaments of the year.

“But then I made the semi-finals and two finals in South America, losing against I think the best opponents every tournament.”

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