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Alcaraz wins in Rio de Janeiro, Rublev and Norrie also secure ATP titles on Sunday

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain poses with the trophy after wining the final of the Rio de Janeiro Tennis Open, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 February 2022. Alcaraz defeated Diego Schwartzman of Argentina. EPA-EFE/Antonio Lacerda

By Ricky Dimon

Carlos Alcaraz secured his second and biggest ATP title on Sunday evening. He made some history in doing so, too.

Alcaraz became the youngest ATP 500 champion ever (since the new points structure was introduced in 2009) when he defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 in the Rio Open final. A rain-delayed tournament saw the 18-year-old finally get across the finish line in a mercifully swift one hour and 27 minutes.

Both Alcaraz and Schwartzman played their quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Saturday because of rain earlier in the week. The Spaniard spent three hours and 49 minutes on the court while beating Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini, while the 14th-ranked Argentine needed five hours and 34 minutes to get past Pablo Andujar and Francisco Cerundolo.

Schwartzman raced to a 2-0 lead in the opening set on Sunday, but Alcaraz answered with a break in the third game and from there he never lost control. Although the world No. 29 gave back a break early in the second set, he quickly added two more service breaks as Schwartzman understandably faded down the stretch.

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

“I can’t believe it, honestly. It has been a great week for me playing (at) a great level. (It was my) first tournament on clay [in] a long time, so I’m really happy with the performance during the whole week. It’s an amazing feeling right now.”

Andrey Rublev defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime for his ninth career title in Marseille. EPA-EFE/SANDER KONING

Alcaraz was joined in the winners’ circle on Sunday by Andrey Rublev (Marseille) and Cameron Norrie (Delray Beach).

Rublev avenged a recent Rotterdam loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime by prevailing 7-5, 7-6(4). The seventh-ranked Russian also captured the Marseille doubles title with Denys Molchanov. Norrie took down Reilly Opelka 7-6(1), 7-6(4) in a match that predictably featured zero breaks of serve. Opelka saved all five of the break points he faced.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.