“….I’m crankin’ up on the throttle
Victory is mine
Show you the harder the battle
The harder I fight
I’ve come too far to quit
Step back I’m goin’ in
I’m crankin’ up on the throttle
This is how legends are made…” – Sam Tinnesz
The 19-year-old whiz kid from El Palmar delivered. He delivered those sensational ground strokes, mesmerized us with those delicate drop shots, stunned us with those mighty serves and took our breath away with that unfathomable “behind the back” return. It was not a normal tennis match where two individuals hurling shots at each other, it was poetry in motion, it was a new star born in the Flushing Meadows that lit the city of dreams on Sunday night many times more than the starts above could do.
What a breath of fresh air! No tantrums on the court, no spitting, no throwing racquet, no hitting the chair umpire, no appearance on the Vogue cover, the flamboyant young man showed what it takes to be not just a Grand Slam winner, but a true example for hard work and determination for the millions watching.
He was born merely 60 days before Roger won his first Grand Slam in 2003 and the fabled dominance of the “big three” started. While Roger, Rafa and the Novak swept 63 of the 76 slams since then, we had so many “next generations” that came and gone. From Sascha to Tsitsipas, from Dominic to Dimitrov, from Felix to Frances, the inventory never ends. Nobody stuck. As thousands of kids of his generation were getting glued to the digital world, thanks to Tik Tok, YouTube, Video Games et al, this kid was trying harder everyday silently in his grandfather’s tennis academy. Noticed by the local tennis association when he was 11 and picked up by Juan Carlos Ferrero when he was 15, the kid was breaking all barriers. As he made his way through to the #1 spot with his plethora of weapons, records started falling like a house of cards. Youngest #1 in the open era, youngest slam winner since Rafa, second youngest US Open winner, one of the very few to beat Novak and Rafa in back to back matches, the list goes on.
Records are meant to be broken. Winners are found every now and then. But very few become the giants of the sport. Even rarer is a sportsman who becomes an ambassador of hard work, integrity and great demeanor. Every step of Carlos Alcaraz embodies how passion leads to performance, how hard work leads to heroics and how every reaction reverberates across the area. Carlos Alcaraz may or may not become the greatest of all time, he may win 10, 20, 30 Slams, who knows? But for now, when Patrick McEnroe asked him before his match with Tiafoe, with a witty wink, the indefatigable teenager said “at 19, I do not have any time to be tired”. We will also never be tired Carlos watching you. The stage is set for you. Take a bow, show the magic and inspire millions across the globe. You have arrived!