© Croatia Open Umag

Carlos Alcaraz becomes the youngest since Kei Nishikori to win an ATP Tour title in Umag.

First-Time Winner Spotlight: Carlos Alcaraz

The teenager the seventh first-time winner of 2021

#NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz saw off three of the top four seeds to capture his maiden ATP Tour title at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag.

The 18-year-old became the youngest tour-level winner since an 18-year-old Kei Nishikori triumphed in Delray Beach 13 years ago, and the youngest from Spain since Rafael Nadal, who was eight days younger when he prevailed in Sopot in 2004.

ATPTour.com caught up with Alcaraz following his victory over Richard Gasquet in Sunday's final.

Watch Umag Final Highlights:

How did you start playing tennis and what are some of your early memories of the sport?
I started to play tennis when I was four years old thanks to my father. He was a professional tennis player as well and he started to teach me how to play tennis. I have a club near my home and I passed it all the time. I’d play tennis and play football with my friends.

When did you realise you wanted to become a professional tennis player?
I think when I was 14 years old, which is when I started to travel around the world. In Spain, I started to win tournaments – national, international – so I realised I can be a professional tennis player. I worked hard for that and I'm reaching my dreams.

Your coach Juan Carlos Ferrero has been a very important person in your life. What do you remember from when you first met him? What makes him so special not just as a coach but as a mentor and a friend?
The first time I met him was at his academy. I went to the academy to train with some players from there and one day he told me that he wanted to train with me. I was in shock. That was the first time I met him, it was on court. Of course he's a mentor for me. He's a friend as well, so he's everything to me. 

What do you think is the most important lesson he has taught you?
I think the most important thing that he taught me is I have to play every point at the same level. I have to be calm in the tough moments and play really, really aggressive. I think this is the most important thing that I learnt from him.

You've been getting a lot of attention from a young age, with many people wanting to talk to you, compare you to Rafael Nadal. How have you been able to deal with the pressure so well?
I try not to think about that. I say always the same – I'm focused on my [path]. I’m still learning, still growing up, still being friendly with everyone and am still focused on my [path].

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Today was a big day for you winning your first title. What are some of your next goals, and your biggest goals?
My goal for this year was to reach the Top 50. I think now I'm [close], so when I reach this goal I'm going to put another goal for the end of the season. My biggest goal is to reach No. 1 in the world and I'm working hard for that. 

Off court, you like golfing in your free time. What are some of the other things you like doing, even if they're not sport related?
I [also] like things outside of sports. I really like to spend time with family, friends, to do some things with friends. When I finish a tournament, I really like to go to my home, to spend time with friends and family.

If you could go to dinner with any three celebrities in the world, who would you pick and why?
I don't know. Let's say Rafa, Federer and Djokovic (laughs).

How much do you look up to those three guys as legends of the sport?
I grew up watching them winning tournaments, winning Grand Slams and I think they're three of the best in history. For me, it's amazing to play against them on the same circuit. I'm a lucky guy to learn from them.

You're getting lots of fans already. What is something you would want them to know about you as a person, not a tennis player?
Let's say I'm very friendly. I'm an open person, so you can talk to me about anything. 

You’re looking in good shape to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals this year. Of course, you'll celebrate your first ATP Tour title now, but how important is that to make it to Milan this year?
For me it's incredible. It's a goal. For me, it would be amazing to play the Next Gen ATP Finals against the best #NextGenATP players of the year. I would enjoy that moment.