Carlos Alcaraz wins U.S. Open, youngest men’s No. 1 in history

Carlos Alcaraz
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Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz won the U.S. Open, becoming at 19 the youngest man to win a major since Rafael Nadal‘s first title at the 2005 French Open and the youngest man to ascend to the No. 1 ranking in ATP history.

Alcaraz, a phenom over the last few years, took out Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 in Sunday’s unprecedented final. It marked the first time that two men faced off each seeking his first major title and to take over the No. 1 ranking for the first time.

“It’s something I dreamed of since I was a kid, to be No. 1 in the world, to be champion of a Grand Slam,” Alcaraz said in an on-court interview. “It’s tough to talk right now, all these emotions.”

Alcaraz denied Ruud from becoming the first Norwegian man to win a major singles title. Ruud previously lost this year’s French Open final to Nadal.

Alcaraz is the first teen to be No. 1 in the world, supplanting Australian Lleyton Hewitt as the youngest No. 1 since ATP rankings began in 1973.

This final was the youngest by combined age since Hewitt won 2002 Wimbledon over David Nalbandian.

Alcaraz earned it the hard way. He became the third man to win back-to-back-to-back five-set matches in a major title run and broke the record for most time on court for any man in a single major since time records started being kept in 1999.

Was he tired at the end?

“A little bit,” he said. “It’s not time to be tired in the final round of a Grand Slam.”

Alcaraz played for 23 hours, 39 minutes for his seven matches, including five-set wins over Marin CilicJannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round through the semifinals.

“He’s a hell of a player,” Tiafoe said of Alcaraz after their Friday match. “He’s going to be a problem for a very long time.”

Many have predicted Alcaraz would reach the top for years.

Juan Carlos Ferrero, the last Spanish man other than Nadal to win a major, started coaching Alcaraz at age 15.

“He was like a spaghetti, very thin,” Ferrero said, smiling. “We had to work.”

In February 2020, Alcaraz won his ATP main draw debut match at age 16 (at 3 a.m. in Rio), becoming the youngest man to beat a top-50 player in 17 years.

He has skyrocketed since starting 2021 ranked No. 141 in the world and being the fifth men’s singles alternate for Spain’s Olympic team for Tokyo. This year, he won tournaments in Rio, Miami, Barcelona, Madrid and New York City.

“Since I won Miami,” on April 3, Alcaraz said, “I thought I was able to have a Grand Slam in my hands. But before Miami, I was thinking that I have to still growing up.”

Ferrero said late Sunday that Alcaraz is “on 60% of his game.”

“Right now I’m enjoying the moment,” he said. “I’m enjoying have the trophy in my hands. But, of course, I’m hungry for more. I want to be in the top for many, many weeks. Hope many years.”

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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