Carlos Alacaraz emerges as leader of Next Gen

Carlos Alcaraz defeated Sebastian Korda to win the ATP Next Gen Finals

Carlos Alcaraz won the ATP Next Gen Finals

Carlos Alcaraz capped his breakthrough 2021 season by winning the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan on Sunday.

He defeated Sebastian Korda 4-3(5), 4-2, 4-2 in the final.

“It is amazing,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview.

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“To be able to win this tournament means a lot to me. I am so excited right now and emotional. I was very, very nervous at the start. I had to be calm to save the break points.

“I know Korda is serving very well, so I had to play my best in those moments.”

The 18-year-old is the first Spaniard to triumph at the 21-and-under event and is the youngest player to earn 32 tour-level victories in a year since Andrei Medvedev, 18, went 32-11 in 1992.

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The top seed was in ruthless form at the Allianz Cloud throughout the tournament, dropping just one set en route to the title as he dispatched Holger Rune, Brandon Nakashima and Juan Manuel Cerundolo in the round-robin stage, before cruising past Argentine Sebastian Baez in the last four.

Alcaraz had started the year at No 141 in the ATP rankings but currently finds himself at No 32. He is coached by former French Open champion and World No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.

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In a standout season, the 18-year-old clinched his maiden tour-level title in Umag and upset World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas as he reached the quarter-finals at the US Open.

Alcaraz also advanced to tour-level semi-finals in Marbella, Winston-Salem and Vienna, where he defeated World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini.

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He showcased the experience he has gained this season against Korda, remaining focused in front of a lively crowd in Italy to become the fourth Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion, joining Hyeon Chung, Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner.

Meanwhile, Korda, who also earned a perfect 3-0 round-robin record in Milan, captured his first tour-level title in Parma in May and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in July.

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The World No. 39 defeated countryman Brandon Nakashima in five sets in the semi-final to become the first American to advance to the championship match at the 21-and-under event.