Carlos Alcaraz – 2022 Season Review
Carlos Alcaraz has rocketed right to the top of the men’s game over the course of the 2022 season.
A tough test in Melbourne
Carlos Alcaraz began 2022 ranked 32nd in the world and with one career title to his name. Seeded 31st at the Australian Open, he claimed straight sets wins over Alejandro Tabilo and Dusan Lajovic. In doing so he improved on his second round appearance in Melbourne the previous year.
Wimbledon finalist and world number seven Matteo Berrettini came next. Despite the Italian’s pedigree, Alcaraz had won their only previous meeting in Vienna in October 2021. As in that contest, this battle went the distance.
Berrettini looked in control to go two sets up before Alcaraz wrestled back momentum to force a decider. An enthralling battle culminated in a final set tiebreak. Berrettini narrowly pipped the teenager 10-5 as Alcaraz sealed the match with a double fault.
The Spaniard had pushed the eventual semi-finalist extremely close, a testament to his ability and a foreshadowing of results to come.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 2-1
Moving to the Americas
Carlos Alcaraz claims ATP 500 glory in Brazil
Less than a month on and Carlos Alcaraz met Matteo Berrettini again. After wins over Jaume Munar and Federico Delbonis, the Spaniard took on the Italian at the ATP 500 Rio Open. Alcaraz avenged his Melbourne loss with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 victory putting the head-to-head back in his favour at 2-1.
Alcaraz backed up another impressive top 10 win by defeating former world number nine Fabio Fognini to reach the final. Alcaraz then eased past 2018 champion Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 to claim his second career title. In fact, the triumph also made the 18-year-old the youngest title-winner at ATP 500 level since the format began in 2009.
Alcaraz touted his variety of play as carrying him to the win, combining heavy strokes with deft drop shots.
He said: “I think this is my game. It’s a lot of variety. It’s the key [to how] I won the match. I know how Diego plays and this was really important for me.”
Alcaraz then hopped back over to Spain to make his senior Davis Cup debut in a qualifier against Romania. There he defeated Marius Copill on the clay of Marbella, 6-4, 6-3.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 8-1
A master in the making
Carlos Alcaraz then returned to the Americas, landing stateside to compete in Indian Wells. Straight sets victories over Mackenzie McDonald, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Gael Monfils took him to the quarter-finals and a showdown with defending champion Cameron Norrie. As in the previous rounds, Alcaraz eased past the Brit 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first Masters semi-final.
Waiting there was Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal. Their second meeting, the two had met at the Madrid Masters the previous May. At that time Alcaraz was the world number 120 and lost to his compatriot 6-1, 6-2. The teen was a whole other prospect 10 months on.
The now 19th ranked Alcaraz put on a fighting display to go toe-to-toe with the 21-Slam winning legend. Nadal even suffered a broken rib late on in the contest. But it was not to be for Alcaraz as he fell 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Nadal had truly been pushed to the edge, admitting after the win: “I can’t say I was in control because it is impossible to be under control against a player like him.”
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 12-2
Carlos Alcaraz lands Masters breakthrough
Onto Miami and the youngster was now 16th in the world. He downed Marton Fucsovics and Marin Cilic in straights to set a second ever meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas in the round of 16.
The two had contested an epic in the third round of the US Open the previous September, Alcaraz taking it in five sets. While the level of tennis was superb once more, the scoreline ended a one-sided 7-5, 6-3 in favour of Alcaraz. That put him up 2-0 over the Greek.
His quarter-final produced arguably the match of the tournament. There he faced 22-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic. A three-set tussle ensued between the pair, including two tiebreaks. The younger Spaniard took it 7-5 in the third set breaker to scupper the Serbian’s run.
Alcaraz had never reached a Masters 1000 semi-final before 2022. He had now reached two back-to-back. Defending Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz was the teen star’s next opponent. The Pole put up a good fight, but Alcaraz ultimately carved out the win 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2) to advance to a first Masters final.
The title match guaranteed a first time Masters champion. That champion would be either Alcaraz or world number eight Norwegian Casper Ruud. Ruud held the upper hand leading 4-1, before Alcaraz pegged him back to win it 7-5.
All the momentum was then with the Spaniard. An early second set break was all he required to seal his maiden Masters triumph. Still just 18, Alcaraz became the youngest men’s champion in Miami ever.
“I have no words to describe how I feel right now,” he said of his joy in claiming the trophy.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 18-2
Carlos Alcaraz cracks the clay
Monte Carlo misery
Despite his proven abilities on clay, the European swing started poorly for Carlos Alcaraz. The now world number 11 struggled in windy conditions in Monaco against fellow Next Gen prospect Sebastian Korda. The American claimed victory to dump Alcaraz out in his first match in the second round.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 18-3
Alcaraz travelled back to Spain next and the ATP 500 Barcelona Open. Seeded fifth, he claimed wins over Soonwoo Kwon and Jaume Munar to get rolling. That set a third meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas. And as before, Alcaraz was too much for his more experienced opponent, winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 under the lights in Catalonia.
A rain delay late on Saturday meant the semi-final between Alcaraz and Alex de Minaur was spread over two days. In a brilliant battle Alcaraz saved two match points deep in the second set, including with a stunning forehand winner from an improbable position.
Alcaraz eventually clinched it 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to reach his fourth ever tour final. He and Pablo Carreno Busta played their second match of the day to vie for the title. Alcaraz extended his perfect run of finals to 4-0 by cruising past his fellow countryman 6-3, 6-2.
“It means a lot,” he said of the title. “I’ve watched this tournament since I was a kid. I always wished to play in this tournament and of course to be able to win this tournament.”
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 23-3
A stunning Masters run
Onto the capital and Alcaraz was world number nine entering the Madrid Masters. While his talent was undeniable, this is where the Spaniard truly showed himself to be a big match player.
Wins over Nikoloz Basilashvili and Cameron Norrie saw him into the quarter-finals. Rafael Nadal was waiting there in a repeat of their first ever meeting a year prior. After such a close Indian Wells battle, Alcaraz finally got the better of his idol. He won 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 as a 19th birthday gift to himself for the day before.
That set a first meeting with world number one Novak Djokovic. The three-time champion proved a stern adversary for the teenager, taking the opening set 7-5 in a tiebreak. But Alcaraz was playing spectacularly, and levelled with a 7-5 second set.
Another tiebreak was required for the decider. Willed on by his home crowd, Alcaraz came through 7-5 to reach a second career Masters final. The win also made him the first man ever to defeat Nadal and Djokovic in the same clay tournament.
Defending champion Alexander Zverev contested the final with Alcaraz. However, the German was no match for the 19-year-old as Alcaraz brushed him aside 6-3, 6-1.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 28-3
Having picked up an injury in Madrid, Alcaraz rested as the tour took to Rome. But he was back at the French Open. Seeded sixth, Alcaraz was for the first time among the favourites at a Slam. That status withstood a serious test in the second round.
Facing Spanish journeyman Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Alcaraz found himself match point down in the fourth set. But he dug deep to claim the set 7-2 in a tiebreak to bring on a deciding set. Despite falling a break behind in the final set, Alcaraz held firm to recover again. After more than four and a half hours on court he eventually won 6-1, 6-7 (7-9), 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 to advance to the third round.
Alcaraz then avenged his Monte Carlo loss to Sebastian Korda with an easy straight sets win over the American to reach the second week in Paris. He breezed past Karen Khachanov in similar fashion to secure a rematch with Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. And this time the German came out firing to put Alcaraz away in four sets in what was arguably an upset given their recent Madrid meeting.
“I knew that I had to play my absolute best tennis today, from the start on, and I’m happy that I did that,” Zverev admitted in his on-court interview.
“I told him at the net, [he’s] going to win this tournament a lot of times, not only once. I hope I can win it before he starts beating us all and we will have no chance at all.”
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 32-4
Carlos Alcaraz wows Wimbledon
As in 2021, Alcaraz did not play any grass events in the lead-up to SW19. He face Jan Lennard-Struff in the first round. The world number 155 had a game far exceeding his ranking, particularly on the grass. As against Ramos-Vinolas in Paris, Alcaraz won from two sets to one down 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. The Spaniard was beginning to build a habit of winning marathons, this contest also going more than four hours.
Alcaraz reached the fourth round with straight sets wins over Tallon Griekspoor and Oscar Otte. He then took part in a Next Gen battle with Jannik Sinner as both men chased their third ever Major quarter-final. Both had little experience on the grass, but it was the older Italian that came out on top 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3 to reach the last eight.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 35-5
Carlos Alcaraz faces the heat in Hamburg
A week after Wimbledon concluded, Alcaraz returned to action at the ATP 500 European Open in Hamburg. All the competitors had to contend with soaring temperatures on the clay, but Alcaraz withstood the fire. He came through a scare against 259th ranked wildcard Nicola Kuhn 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) to kick off his campaign.
He saw himself into the final with straight sets wins over Filip Krajinovic, Karen Khachanov and Alex Molcan. In another Next Gen contest, Alcaraz took on Lorenzo Musetti. The Italian was in pursuit of a first tour title, Alcaraz a fifth.
Even after Musetti took the opener 6-4, few expected Alcaraz to lose. He faced five match points in the second set, saving them all before taking it 8-6 in a tiebreak. So many missed opportunities for Musetti may have seen him falter. But that was not the case. He rallied to win 6-4 in the third set, a first final loss for Alcaraz in his fifth championship match.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 39-6
Mixed emotions in Croatia
Putting the Hamburg loss behind him, Carlos Alcaraz returned to Umag, the venue of his maiden tour title in 2021. Seeded first, he breezed past lucky loser Norbert Gombos and Facundo Bagnis to reach the semi-finals. Qualifier Giulio Zeppieri put up strong resistance before the world number 168 fell 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Another final and another Next Gen showdown, again with Jannik Sinner. Alcaraz edged out a tight opening set 7-5 in a tiebreak and looked set to defend his title. But it all fell apart from there as Sinner reeled off sets two and three 6-1, 6-1 for his fifth career title, a first on clay.
Another final for Alcaraz showed his consistency, but a second final loss in a row was no doubt disappointing for the top talent.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 42-7
The US swing
Carlos Alcaraz crumbles under pressure in Canada and Cincinnati
As the tour moved back to the North American hard courts, the young Spaniard did not bounce back as quickly as might be expected. Now world number four, Alcaraz faced Tommy Paul in the second round of the Canadian Masters in Montreal. In a close-fought affair Alcaraz was pipped by the American 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (9-7), 6-3.
“I felt the pressure to be the number two seed in this kind of tournament, number four in the world,” he said. “It was the first time that I felt that pressure, and I couldn’t handle it.”
Onto Cincinnati and Alcaraz faired better. Wins over Mackenzie McDonald and Marin Cilic took him into the quarter-finals. Cameron Norrie waited there for him. The Brit was hungry for a victory over the 19-year-old after three failed attempts. But it was fourth time’s the charm for the world number 11 as he won 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 to dump the youngster out.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 44-9
The concrete jungle
Despite a 2-2 record across the two events entering Flushing Meadows, Alcaraz remained among the favourites to win the US Open. In the first round, Sebastian Baez hung tough with Alcaraz for two sets before retiring in the third.
Federico Coria and Jenson Brooksby offered little in the way of resistance before Alcaraz took on Marin Cilic in the fourth round. Another Slam epic for the Spaniard ensued as the two did battle for nearly four hours.
Alcaraz claimed it 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 as the contest ended at 2:23am local time, one of the latest finishes in tournament history.
But that was not the last of the late night battles for Alcaraz. Jannik Sinner came next in their third meeting of the season. After saving a match point deep in the fourth set, Alcaraz won 6-3, 6-7 (7-9), 6-7 (0-7), 7-5, 6-3.
That contest lasted more than five hours and ended at 2:50am, the latest finish in US Open history. Alcaraz was into his first ever Major semi-final, a year on from his first quarter-final at that level.
“Honestly, I still don’t know how I did it,” Alcaraz said of the win. “You have to believe in yourself. I believed in my game.”
A fairytale in New York
Frances Tiafoe would take Alcaraz on in the semi-final. The American had ousted Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, becoming the only man to beat the legend at a Major all season.
But he could not do it against Alcaraz as the teen won another marathon after more than four hours on court.
Alcaraz faced Casper Ruud in the final, the Norwegian’s second Major final of 2022 after the French Open. Both men were not just fighting for their first Slam title. They were also in a straight shootout for the honour of becoming the 28th ever ATP world number one.
And it was Alcaraz who wrote that chapter into his story, winning 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 to secure his first Major crown. In doing so, he became the youngest men’s Slam champion since Nadal at the 2005 French Open, and the youngest men’s US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990.
“This is something I dreamt of since I was a kid,” Alcaraz said on court. “To be number one in the world, to be winner of a Grand Slam, it’s tough to talk right now.”
Alcaraz also became the youngest world number one since ATP rankings began in 1973 with the title.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 51-9
Leading the way
Hanging tough in the Davis Cup
Despite topping the rankings, it was back to fighting hard for Carlos Alcaraz. Facing Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Davis Cup, he lost his first match as world number one 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2. He claimed a win over Soonwoo Kwon of Korea to ready the ship and help his nation progress to the quarter-finals.
A shocking first for Carlos Alcaraz in 2022
Alcaraz played his first tour match since the US Open at the ATP 500 Astana Open in October. He had gone all season without losing a match in straight sets.
But the Belgian lucky loser broke that streak to upset the top seed 7-5, 6-3. That left Alcaraz 1-2 since his New York triumph, hardly a procession for the new world number one.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record to this point: 52-11
Tough times in Basel and Paris Bercy
Alcaraz made his tournament debut at the Swiss Indoors Basel as he chased a seventh career title. A three-set win over fellow youngster Jack Draper was followed by victories over Botic van de Zandschulp and Pablo Carreno Busta.
He then met Auger-Aliassime for a second time in 2022, with the same result. Alcaraz lost 6-3, 6-2 with the Canadian in blistering form. He even went on to win the title without dropping serve.
Onto Paris and the final Masters event of the year. A strong start to the campaign from the Spaniard would end in unfortunate circumstances though. Into the quarter-finals he took on another 19-year-old in Holger Rune.
Down a set and deep in the second the world number one began to feel pain in his left abdominal. After a medical timeout he attempted to fight out the tiebreak, but had to retire with injury, casting doubt on his maiden ATP Finals in Turin.
Carlos Alcaraz win-loss record: 55-13
Alcaraz was deemed not fit enough to play in either the Nitto ATP Finals or the Davis Cup finals so his season ended abruptly, but not before he was able to accept his award for ending the season as World no.1
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