'Number one, slams, Olympic medals' - Rio champion Alcaraz targets tennis greatness

By Sports Desk February 20, 2022

Carlos Alcaraz declared he is "a boy who dreams big" after the 18-year-old landed the Rio Open title and outlined his plans to dominate men's tennis.

A teenager going places, Spaniard Alcaraz was set to shoot up to a career-high ranking inside the ATP top 20 on Monday on the strength of his successful week in Brazil.

He was too strong for Argentina's Diego Schwartzman in what turned out to be a one-sided final, with Alcaraz a 6-4 6-2 winner over an experienced and classy opponent.

It made him the youngest winner of an ATP 500 tournament, since the 2009 creation of that category. Such events rank below the importance of the Masters 1000 tournaments but remain prestigious, and it is one step at a time for now for Alcaraz towards lofty targets.

Alcaraz said: "My ambitions are to be number one in the world, a winner of grand slams, a winner of Olympic medals... I am a boy who dreams big."

This clay-court success whets the appetite for what Alcaraz might achieve on the surface over the coming months. He won the Umag tournament in Croatia on clay last July but will likely be targeting the likes of Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Monte Carlo and even Roland Garros for similar success this year.

It was in Rio two years ago that Alcaraz first won an ATP main-draw match.

"Two years later, winning the tournament means a lot to me," Alcaraz told a news conference. "When I came here for the first time, I came to continue enjoying myself, to learn from the best. This time I had high expectations and I came thinking that I could win, that I am a candidate.

"I am super happy to have won my first ATP 500. It has been a week full of emotions and to be able to win this final has been a great joy for me."

Alcaraz was gutted to miss last year's Davis Cup finals after testing positive for COVID-19, but the powerful teenager is on a mission to maximise his talent in 2022.

He went toe to toe with Matteo Berrettini in the third round of the Australian Open, coming from two sets down to force a decider against last year's Wimbledon runner-up, only to lose out on a tie-break.

This time, Berrettini was among his victims on the road to the title in Rio.

Alcaraz said after Sunday's win, according to Spanish newspaper AS: "The expectations that people have of me are high, and I appreciate that they see that I can be the best in the world, but both my team and I know how difficult it is.

"I think I'm on the right path and if I don't deviate from it and keep doing things well, it won't be guaranteed, but I will have opportunities."

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