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Historic ATP 500 title success for Alcaraz

Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP 500 champion since the category was created in 2009 while Andrey Rublev and Cameron Norrie won ATP 250 titles in France and the United States.

Spanish 18-year-old Alcaraz beat Argentine third-seed Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-2 in less than 90 minutes in the clay-court final to rocket into the world’s top 20 for the first time.

“I can’t believe it, honestly. It has been a great week for me playing a great level,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview.

“First tournament on clay since a long time, so I’m really happy with the performance during the whole week. It’s an amazing feeling right now.”

The seventh-seeded Alcaraz won his first professional match in Rio de Janeiro two years ago and his first tournament last year at Umag, Croatia, also on clay.

Alcaraz’s path to the title included upsetting top seed Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals and then beating another Italian, Fabio Fognini, in the semi-finals.

Fitness was a key element of Sunday’s final after both Alcaraz and Schwartzman played twice on Saturday due to fixture congestion caused by heavy rain during the week.

In Marseille, Rublev was crowned champion of the Open 13 Provence by gaining revenge over Felix Auger-Aliassime in a hard-fought final.

Auger-Aliassime defeated Rublev in Rotterdam last week on the way to securing his maiden ATP Tour title but the Russian world No.7 responded on Sunday with a 7-5 7-6 (7-4) victory.

Rublev held his nerve in the tiebreaker against the ninth-ranked Canadian after failing to serve out the match, to eventually seal his ninth tour-level triumph and improve his record in finals on indoor hard courts to 5-0.

“I had to increase my level otherwise I would have had no chance against Felix,” Rublev said afterwards.

“From 5-4, Felix started to play even better and I was thinking it would go to three sets.

“But somehow I was able to raise my level and, in the end, it was tough.”

Norrie’s year started off slowly, with four consecutive losses, but he has found his stride since then to jump up to a career high 12th in the rankings.

The British top seed secured his third main-tour title with a 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (7-4) win over Reilly Opelka in the Delray Beach Open decider.

All three of those titles for Norrie have come in the past seven months, after he won at Los Cabos in July and then Indian Wells in October.

Norrie — who was only 2-5 in 2022 entering this tournament — also had to do it the hard way against the big-serving second seed Opelka, who piled up 25 aces.

Opelka had won 14 of his past 17 tiebreakers before Sunday, when Norrie — who did not face a break points all match — managed to win two of them.

with DPA

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