“What is the feeling after this first Grand Slam title and this No. 1 spot?
It’s been a great run here at the US Open. It’s great to have the trophy. I have outdone myself. I played great matches, at high intensity during these two weeks, which I had never done before. I’m really happy to be the new world No. 1 and to be able to continue to progress.
You would have imagined it happening so quickly a few years ago?
It’s crazy. I never thought I would do this kind of thing at 19. It all happened so fast. For me it’s amazing. It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid, since I started playing tennis. Lifting this trophy is incredible for me.
Your coach said that in Cincinnati, you had lost your joy on the court a little. How did you manage to free yourself here?
Like Juan Carlos (Ferrero, his trainer) said it, I kind of lost my joy of being on the court in Montreal and Cincinnati. I felt the pressure. I couldn’t smile on the court like I do every game and every tournament. I came here to have fun, you know? Smile on the court, enjoy playing tennis. If I smile, if I have fun, I deliver my best tennis.
Carlos Alcaraz with Juan Carlos Ferrero. (M. Segar/Reuters)
“After the title in Miami, I thought I was capable of winning a Grand Slam”
Does this win here make you even hungrier?
For the moment, I enjoy the present moment. I appreciate having this trophy in my hands. But of course, I’m hungry for more. I want to be at the top for many weeks, hopefully many years. I will continue to work hard after this fortnight. I will fight for more.
You’ve dreamed of all this since you were a child, but when did you realize it was possible?
Honestly, since winning the title in Miami. After that, I thought I was capable of winning a Grand Slam. Before, I imagined that I had to grow still. I thought I was capable of good Grand Slam results but not winning the title. In Miami, I won several big matches in a row. And there I said to myself that I was capable of winning a Grand Slam.
There is another great champion in your country, Rafael Nadal, you are just 21 titles behind him…
I got one, he got 22. I’m on my way (smile).
“I had the impression that from the baseline he had a better chance of winning the points”
You did a lot of serve and volley during this final, was it something studied?
We talked about it with Juan Carlos before the game. It returns from a fairly deep position. I would say I’m pretty good at the volley. So I’m trying to use that in my favor. I served well too. But I also did it because I was very nervous. I felt like from the baseline he had a better chance of winning the points.
You have built a very special relationship with New York audiences last year and this year. What is this bond that unites you?
It means a lot to me to be supported by so many people here in New York. What I experienced here last year was incredible. This year it was even stronger. I went through a lot of difficult times, very complicated matches. They always believed in me, they encouraged me. I finished my match against Jannik (Sinner) at almost 3 am they were there until the last point. This trophy is also theirs. Maybe without them I wouldn’t have the trophy with me.