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Alcaraz Wins Rome Debut, Will Regain World No. 1

Carlos Alcaraz won his Rome debut today. Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images

Bouncing up and down on the red clay like a sprinter pumping up for the starting blocks, Carlos Alcaraz looked like a man going places even when the ball wasn’t in play.

Revved up for his Rome debut, Alcaraz raced through eight of the last nine games conquering compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 6-1 to score his 12th straight win.

Madrid champion Alcaraz improved to 30-2 on the season, including an ATP-best 20-1 clay-court record.

“I feel great. Even the conditions was tough,” Alcaraz said. “Apart of that, yeah, I felt the love from the people.

“It was great to have a lot of people, even a really tough condition, really tough day, waiting the whole day. It was great to play my first match here in Rome.”

Rome is a springboard to first-class success for Alcaraz, who clinched his return to the world No. 1 ranking and top-seeded status for Roland Garros later this month.

Simply by stepping on court today, Alcaraz ensured he will surpass reigning Rome champion Novak Djokovic to regain the top spot after Rome ends.

“I grew up a lot in just a year,” Alcaraz said. “I have more experience. I played great matches. I grew up thanks to that a lot. I more mature as well.

“I would say in just a year I’m a totally different player. I read the match better than last year. I would say this year is totally different for me.”

Of course, Alcaraz, the youngest year-end world No. 1 in ATP history, aspires to much more than expanding his time at the top.

During his run to his second straight Madrid championship, Alcaraz shared his dream of tennis immortality.

“Well, my dream on tennis right now is to become one of the best tennis players in history,” said Alcaraz, who celebrated his 20th birthday last Friday. “I know that this is a big dream, probably is too big.
“But in this world, you have to dream big and you have to think big, as well.”

After a slow start today, Alcaraz sometimes played as big as the massive marble statues that stand sentry around the Foro Italico.

The US Open champion converted four of 12 break points and snapped off a final forehand winner, one of 23 winners he hit in 17 games, to close a confident 85-minute victory.

A decade after his tennis hero, Rafael Nadal, swept Madrid and Rome in succession for the second time, Alcaraz aims to join the king of clay and Novak Djokovic as the third man to complete the clay-court championship sweep of Madrid and Rome in the same season.