Carlos Alcaraz, an 18-year-old not even in the top 100 of the world rankings this time a year ago, has been crowned Miami Open champion after defeating another rising star, Casper Ruud 7-5 6-4 in the final.

The Spanish meteor is the youngest men’s champion in Miami Open history, getting there quicker even than previous record-holder Novak Djokovic, who was 19 when he first won the prestigious tennis tournament.

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The shot-making ability from the Spanish teen was on full display on Sunday – daring drop shots in tense situations, deft touch at the net when needed, and raw power from the baseline when warranted as he outplayed Ruud.

He was watched by coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, who had been away while mourning the death of his father, but made it back to Miami in time for the final.

When the match was over, Alcaraz hopped into the stands to give Ferrero his first hug as a Miami champion, as his coach wiped away tears.

There had been four other Spanish men to make the Miami final over the last quarter-century.

Sergi Bruguera was the first, in 1997. Carlos Moya was next, in 2003. David Ferrer got there in 2013 and the best player of them all, Rafael Nadal, made it to the Miami final as an 18-year-old in 2005 then again in 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017.

They all lost. Every time.

But Alcaraz has ended the drought with authority.

“Congratulations Carlitos for your HISTORIC triumph in Miami,” Nadal wrote as he paid tribute to the new champion.

“The first of many to come, for sure!”

Alcaraz lost one set in six matches in Miami, improving to 18-2 overall this year, and he’s become the third-youngest winner of any ATP Masters 1000 series event — which goes back to 1990.

The only younger winners are Michael Chang and Nadal.

Despite his defeat, Norwegian Ruud will climb one spot to a career-best No.7 in the world on Monday.

“The most important thing is you are a nice guy,” Alcaraz said of Ruud during his winner’s speech.

“Keeping like this is more important, to be a nice guy, and you are.”

Carlos Alcaraz kisses his Miami Open trophy.
Carlos Alcaraz kisses his Miami Open trophy. Credit: TPN/Getty Images

For Alcaraz, who will reach a career-best No.11, the rise has been meteoric from sitting 133th in the world rankings this time last year.

But he keeps making huge jumps – getting to the third round of last year’s French Open as a qualifier, making the US Open quarter-finals and winning in Rio in February.