Teenager Carlos Alcaraz continued his blazing rise by demolishing Alexander Zverev in the Madrid final on Sunday, leaving the German to say: "Even though you are still five years old you are still beating us all."
Two weeks before the start of Roland Garros, the young Spaniard brushed aside his third-ranked foe 6-3, 6-1 in 62 minutes to continue a run that signals tennis has a new power.
"It feels great to be able to beat these players. To beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the world No. 3. He is a great player. I would say this is the best week of my life," Alcaraz said in his on-court interview.
Before the Madrid tournament last year, Alcaraz was ranked 120th in the world. On Monday he will reach number six.
On the way he became the youngest US Open quarter-finalist of the Open era last September, then won his first Masters 1000 title in Miami in early April.
Victory on Sunday brought a second Masters 1000 title. The only younger player to reach that milestone was Rafael Nadal, who won in Monte Carlo and Rome when he was 18.
Zverev had no doubt where the teenager's trajectory is heading.
"It's great to see for tennis that we have such a new superstar who is going to win so many Grand Slams and is going to be world no. 1," said the German.
Alcaraz entered the tournament fresh from victory in Barcelona. In Madrid, he turned 19 on Thursday and on the next two days battled past Nadal in two hours and 28 minutes and Novak Djokovic in an 3hr 36min.
- 'Tough matches' -
"I am 19 years old, which I think is the key to be able to play long and tough matches in a row. I am feeling great physically," he said
The atmosphere on Sunday did not reach the fervour of the day before, as Alcaraz grabbed control early and cruised to his quickest victory of the week.
Even so, "it was a spectacular atmosphere," he told the crowd at the end.
"This tournament is special for me because it's the first tournament I watched when I was seven or eight," said Alcaraz.
"Watching Rafa lift this trophy so often, gave me a lot of power to work hard for this moment."
The German second seed was impressed.
"Carlitos, right now you are the best player in the world. Even though you are still five years old you are still beating us all," he told Alcaraz on court after the match.
Alcaraz did not allow Zverev a single break point.
Alcaraz broke in the sixth game and comfortably held his serve to take the first set.
The German eld serve in the first game of the second set but then unravelled.
Alcaraz galloped through the next five games and into a 0-40 lead, Zverev saved three match points but then double-faulted on deuce and again on the fourth match point.
The German saved three but then served a fifth double fault of the match to hand Alcaraz victory.
"Even though I lost quite badly today this is still my favourite court in the world," added Zverev, a champion in the Spanish capital in 2018 and 2021.