Miami champion: Carlos Alcaraz arrives on the big stage

Carlos Alcaraz arrived on the big stage by claiming his first ATP Masters title in Miami

Carlos Alcaraz arrived on the big stage by claiming his first ATP Masters title in Miami

Carlos Alcaraz announced his arrival on the big stage by clinching his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami on Sunday.

The 18-year-old defeated sixth seed Casper Ruud, 7-5, 6-4, in the final at Hard Rock Stadium to claim the biggest prize of his fledgling career.

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“I have no words to describe how I feel right now,” Alcaraz said after the one hour, 52-minute match.

“It’s so special to win my first Masters 1000 here in Miami. I have an unbelievable team with me and family… I’m so happy with the win and my team.”

Alcaraz is the youngest Miami men’s champion in the event’s 37-year history, and the third-youngest ATP Masters 1000 champion overall, spanning 283 events from 1990.

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Only Michael Chang (Toronto 1990) and Rafael Nadal (2005 Monte Carlo) were younger that Alcaraz’s 18 years and 333 days when they won their first respective ATP Masters 1000 titles.

Alcaraz replaced Novak Djokovic as the youngest Miami champion, with the Serb taking the 2007 title at the age of 19, when Alcaraz was three years old.

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The first Spanish champion at the event, he will rise to a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 11 with the win.

After dropping the opening three games of the match with a slow start, Alcaraz took control by winning eight of nine games from 1-4 down.

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He used that run to open up a double-break lead in the second, and though Ruud clawed one back, he could not stop the Spaniard from closing out the match with three confident service holds.

“I knew that Casper is playing unbelievable. He has a big forehand. I tried to play to his backhand first and attack all the time,” Alcaraz said of his tactics.

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“I tried not to let him dominate the match. Forehand down the line, backhand down the line was a pretty good key for me.”

In addition to becoming the youngest winner in tournament history, Alcaraz becomes the first Spanish man to claim the title following eight previous final appearances, including five by Nadal.

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Ruud, competing in his 10th ATP Tour final, was seeking the second hard-court trophy of his career.

The first Norwegian to contest a Masters 1000 final, he now holds a 7-3 record in those finals, while Alcaraz improves to a perfect 3-0.