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Carlos Alcaraz cements himself as hottest prospect in tennis with first career Masters 1000 title


By Ben Morse, CNN

When you’re being praised both by the “King of Clay” and Spanish royalty it’s clear you’re having a special moment.

On Sunday, 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won the Miami Open, beating Casper Ruud in the final to become the youngest winner of the tournament in its 37-year history.

After winning his first Masters 1000 title, Alcaraz was congratulated by his country’s most famous tennis player — 21-time grand slam winner Nadal, who earned his “King of Clay” moniker due to his dominance on Roland Garros’ red stuff.

“Many congratulations Carlitos for your historic triumph in Miami,” Nadal wrote on Twitter. “The first of many to come, for sure.”

Alcaraz was also lauded by Spain’s King Felipe VI.

“I was more nervous [for] that call than the match,” a smiling Alcaraz said after winning the Miami Open.

“It’s pretty amazing that the Spanish king congratulates you on the hard work that you put every day and your win. It’s something that you never thought you were going to receive, a Spanish king call. It’s amazing.”

Influence of coach Juan Carlos Ferrero

With Nadal and Roger Federer — two of tennis’ greatest ever players — advancing in years, Alcaraz is being tipped to fill their sizeable shoes.

“The answer to the question ‘what happens when Federer and Nadal retire?’ Carlos Alcaraz,” tweeted tennis commentator David Law.

Alcaraz beat world No. 8 Ruud 7-5, 6-4 in an hour and 52 minutes in the final at the Hard Rock Stadium, rising to a career high No. 11 in the world rankings as a result.

The Spanish teenager is coached by compatriot and former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Initially Ferrero had not been at the Miami Open because of the recent death of his father, but surprised Alcaraz by arriving ahead of Sunday’s final.

They first began working together in 2018, and Ferrero admitted it didn’t take him long to realize Alcaraz was special.

“I remember when he was practicing with some of the players that they were somewhat higher in the rankings than him, he was 16 or 17, and he could adapt his game to the level of the other players,” Ferrero said.

“It means that he has something and is going to keep working on that and keep working every day. So his potential was there, and I was only [there] to let it flow and let it play and keep things in a good path.

“So it surprises me not at all, but of course it’s been very, very fast and very quick, so not easy to do it.”

And after becoming the third youngest player Masters 1000 champion after Michael Chang and Nadal, Alcaraz praised the impact Ferrero has had on him, on and off the court.

“Juan Carlos [is a] very important person for me,” he said. “In the professional side, on the personal side, he helps me a lot in both sides. When we are together, we will talk about everything in life, everything in our sport, about football, as well.

“Juan Carlos, I consider him a coach and a friend as well. So I can talk to him about everything.”

The win continues an excellent year for Alcaraz — now comprised of 18 wins and just two losses — and firmly roots himself as the hottest prospect in tennis.

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