Carlos Alcaraz, NextGen Finals Champion 2021

When the draw for the NextGen Finals came out a week ago I was hoping we would get a final between 18 year old Carlos Alcatraz and 21 year old Sebastian Korda.

Both players have had a fantastic season and will end the year in the top 40 and I can see them going higher and higher up those rankings in 2022. They have both been a class apart during the NextGen Finals in Milan showing an incredibly high level throughout.

Their pathways this season and to the finals have been different but on similar form, 31 wins and 17 defeats coming into their first meeting in the final.

The Final was super competitive and it was fine margins, the opening set was one of the best sets of tennis I’ve seen this week. Both players were playing at such a high level it was a masterclass on both sides of the court. I felt that Alcaraz had the edge, there was a moment in the first set at 30-30 he dug out the body serve and the approach into the net perfectly to win a quick point at a pivotal time.

He won the tie-break 7-5 and ended up winning less points in the set than Korda (25 to his 23) but the important points went the way of the Spaniard who won the last two to seal the set.

In the second set a slight dip from Set at 2-2 pretty much ended his hopes it felt like, this format of fast four means sometimes one break is enough to seal a set and Alcaraz consolidated to extend his lead to 4-3 4-2.

It wasn’t that Seb was playing badly he just wasn’t able to play, he struggled to keep up with Carlos running around the forehand up the line and couldn’t get his backhand to produce the winners. With just under 70 minutes on the clock Carlos broke for a second time in the match and with that looked like becoming the fourth winner of the NextGen Finals.

The 18 year old was made to work for it despite seeing a set point on the American’s serve but it wasn’t plain sailing down 0-30 whilst serving for the title.

Four points in a row to end a phenomenal week and year on a high and 2022 will be absolutely fascinating!

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