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Following US Open Tennis triumph, Alcaraz has sights set on slam title No. 2 and staying No. 1

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain and Casper Ruud of Norway pose with their trophies after the US Open final. (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest man to ever reach No. 1 in the world on Monday after capturing the U.S. Open title. Sunday’s 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-3 triumph over Casper Ruud also made the 19-year-old the second-youngest men’s singles champion in tournament history behind only Pete Sampras.

Having already achieved so much at such a young age, expectations for Alcaraz are obviously through the roof. The Spaniard is eager to live up to them.

 “I’m hungry for more,” Alcaraz assured. “I want to be [at] the top for many, many weeks–[hopefully] many years. I’m going to work hard again after this week–these amazing two weeks. I’m going to fight [to] have more of this.”

Although this is his first Grand Slam title, Alcaraz had already won a 500-point tournament (Rio de Janeiro) and two Masters 1000s (Miami and Madrid) this season. He was the youngest to lift a 500 trophy and the second-youngest behind Rafael Nadal to secure multiple Masters 1000 titles. All of those results combined with the U.S. Open success and second-week appearances at Roland Garros and Wimbledon have propelled the teenager to No. 1.

Photo credit: US Open Facebook

“It’s crazy for me,” he said. “I never thought that I was going to achieve something like that at 19 years old. So everything came so fast. For me it’s unbelievable. It’s something I [dreamt of] since I was a kid–since I started playing tennis.”

Alcaraz climbed from fourth in the rankings, passing No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, No. 2 Alexander Zverev, and the third-ranked Nadal. Ruud soared from seventh to second. Sunday’s championship match was a winner-take-all showdown not only for the U.S. Open title but also for the top ranking. After Nadal lost to Frances Tiafoe, the 36-year-old needed both Alcaraz and Ruud to lose prior to the final in order for him to regain the No. 1 spot. Neither one did.

Now it’s Alcaraz who is ahead–in the rankings, at least. He is 21 short of Nadal on the all-time Grand Slam title list.

“I’ll always be proud when Rafa wins Grand Slams, and obviously if I lose at a Grand Slam I’ll always be supporting a Spaniard,” Alcaraz noted. “I’ve won one. I don’t feel closer; I’ve got 21 to go. For now, I’m going to think about trying to get the second, which very few people have managed. That’s my goal.”

Needless to say, it’s only a matter of time. 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.