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Alcaraz follows in Nadal footsteps as 18-year-old champion

·2-min read
Trailblazer: Spain's Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest Spanish champion on the ATP Tour since Rafael Nadal in 2004 when he captured the Umag clay court title on Sunday.

The 18-year-old swept past 35-year-old Richard Gasquet of France 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

Nadal was also 18 when he won the first of his 88 titles at Sopot in August, 2004. Nadal was just eight days younger that day than Alcaraz is today.

World number 73 Alcaraz is the third youngest champion on the main tour since 2000 after Kei Nishikori at Delray Beach in 2008 and Nadal at Sopot.

"It's amazing. I have a lot of emotions. I'm really, really happy with this victory, this win, my first ATP title," Alcaraz told atptour.com.

"I'm going to enjoy this moment a lot."

Alcaraz, who made the last 16 at the French Open in June after going through qualifying, defeated third seed Filip Krajinovic and top-seeded compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas to make his first ATP final.

"I had a lot of good moments in this tournament. I beat five great tennis players," Alcaraz said.

"I think that I grew up a lot in this tournament and I keep a lot of experience from this tournament. It's going to be useful for the future."

Fourth seed Gasquet, whose last final appearance was at Bastad in 2018, was seeking a 16th career title and first since 's-Hertogenbosch in 2018.

"It was tough for me to play with full intensity. I had a tough match yesterday," said Gasquet who had need more than three hours to win his semi-final against German qualifier Daniel Altmaier on Saturday.

"It was tough, and especially with a guy like Carlos, who is playing really fast with a lot of energy and spin.

"He's playing unbelievable. He's only 18 and of course he has a great future and I just couldn't play at his level and his intensity. That was the key of the match and he didn't lose a point. He played well, very solid. He's a great player."

Like Alcaraz, Gasquet was also a highly regarded teenager.

He claimed his first tour-level victory as a 15-year-old in 2002 -- more than a year before the Spaniard was born.

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