In a young career full of memorable moments, Carlos Alcaraz wrote another unforgettable chapter Sunday in Barcelona.
The fifth seed defeated mentor and eighth seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 to win the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Alcaraz, who has now won three titles this season, is projected to climb to No. 9 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, making him the youngest player to crack the Top 10 since Rafael Nadal did it exactly 17 years ago after lifting his first Barcelona trophy.
“It means a lot. I’ve watched this tournament since I was a kid. I always wished to play in this tournament and of course to be able to win this tournament,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. “I’m really, really happy to be part of the [historic] Spanish list. “
Plenty of Spanish legends have won the Barcelona title, including Rafael Nadal, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya. Alcaraz, Nadal and Sunday’s Belgrade champion Andrey Rublev lead the ATP Tour this season with three titles each.
“I’ve always been a normal guy. I’m not scared of fame,” Alcaraz said. “I’m not going to change the person I am. I’m happy to know that at 18 years old I’m in the Top 10, and to do it [at] the same age as my idol Rafa is impressive. “
Although the scoreline of the final looks straightforward, the day was anything but. The semi-finals were pushed to Sunday because of rain, and the 18-year-old needed three hours and 40 minutes to defeat Alex de Minaur in the longest best-of-three match of the season. In that clash, the Aussie had two match points to win in straight sets. On one of those match points, De Minaur had a short forehand with the court open, but allowed Alcaraz a look at a passing shot, which the teen delivered perfectly.
The #NextGenATP star showed no fatigue in the final, overwhelming Carreno Busta, who is like Alcaraz’s older brother, in one hour and six minutes. Both Spaniards train at the JC Ferrero Equelite Sport Academy and Carreno Busta’s coach, Samuel Lopez, used to coach Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero. During the trophy ceremony, Alcaraz and Carreno Busta even sat on the same bench as they waited to be called up.
So although this was the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, they were plenty familiar with one another. Alcaraz’s power controlled the action and he did not face a break point, while converting four of his 10 break chances to triumph.
“When my semi-final match finished, I rested, ate and I did my routine,” Carreno Busta said. “As we share team members, we do similar routines and we have coincided in some moments. We are friends first and we have to respect that.”
Earlier in the day, Carreno Busta defeated sixth seed Diego Schwartzman in straight sets. But he was unable to find the same consistency against his countryman, missing a forehand long at 2-2 to relinquish the first break of the match and a short backhand on set point to give up another service break.
It was clear Carreno Busta had to go for more to try to match Alcaraz’s weight of shot, but he was never able to find enough of a rhythm to trouble his younger opponent.
“It wasn’t the match I expected,” Carreno Busta said. “Carlos was playing a very aggressive game this afternoon and he was very effective. It was very difficult play against him today.”
One year ago in Barcelona, then-World No. 119 Alcaraz lost in the first round against Frances Tiafoe in straight sets. Now he is the tournament winner.
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