Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz fulfilled his potential as a future Grand Slam champion and world number one by beating Casper Ruud in the US Open final to achieve both feats.
Alcaraz won 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 in his first major final.
The 19-year-old is the youngest men’s Grand Slam champion since Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2005.
Ruud, 23, would have become the new world number one if he had won, but has now lost both of his two major finals.
Instead it is Alcaraz who replaces Russia’s Daniil Medvedev at the top, becoming the first teenager to climb to the summit in the 49-year history of the ATP rankings.
After hitting a routine forehand long on his first championship point, Alcaraz took his second with a service winner out wide and instantly fell flat on his back in celebration.
Alcaraz, who saved two set points in the third which would have put Ruud ahead, ran up to his team in the stands and danced with them in a huddle, before returning to his seat where he was crying at the same time as smiling.
“This is something which I dreamt of since I was a kid, being number one in the world and a champion of a Grand Slam,” Alcaraz said.
“It is something I have worked very hard for. It is really, really special.”
The first of many for Alcaraz?
Alcaraz, with his powerful hitting and supreme athleticism, has long been tipped for greatness.
Since being identified as a potential superstar aged 11, he has developed under the guidance of former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero and taken his game to new levels this season.
Now Alcaraz has made his breakthrough on one of the biggest stages in the sport.
Over the past fortnight he has shown his talent and heart to win over legions of new fans, demonstrating why he is considered by many the player best placed to replace Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at the top of the men’s game in the coming years.
Alcaraz was the youngest Grand Slam men’s finalist since Nadal won the 2005 French Open and the youngest US Open men’s finalist since Pete Sampras won here in 1990.
Generally, over the course of a three-hour win over fifth seed Ruud, he looked unburdened by the weight of history.
The pair played to a high level throughout an engrossing match, with Alcaraz playing the bigger points better in front of a 24,000 crowd largely supporting the Spaniard.
A single early break proved the difference in the first set, giving a strong platform to Alcaraz – who had won his previous 21 matches at a major after taking the first set.
After showing signs of frustration on Ruud’s way to levelling the match, Alcaraz had to show fight in the third set.
Alcaraz – who had won three epic five-setters in a row to reach the final – looked to be lacking energy on certain shots, but Ruud could not capitalise fully as his opponent stopped him going ahead.
That provided the Spaniard with the impetus to eventually dominate the fourth set, breaking for a 4-2 lead and seeing out victory.
More to follow.