Carlos Alcaraz powered past Alex Molcan in Hamburg on Saturday, 7-6 (2), 6-1, to not only reach the final of the ATP 500 clay-court event—and improve to 14-0 in ATP 500 events this year—but also to secure his Top 5 debut on the ATP rankings.

He’s projected to rise from No. 6 to No. 5 by reaching the final, and could even climb one spot higher to No. 4 by winning the title on Sunday, passing Stefanos Tsitsipas.

After a grueling 65-minute first set, where Alcaraz led 5-3 but ended up having to close it out on his fifth set point in the tie-break, the Spaniard broke in the first game of the second set and ran away with it from there, finishing the match with 32 winners to 14 unforced errors—including 25 winners to 9 unforced errors off the forehand.

“It was tough. Obviously he played really well,” Alcaraz said of Molcan. “I’m happy to end the first set playing well, and in the second set I think he was down a little bit.

“I finished the match with a lot of confidence and playing really well.”

Though Alcaraz’s biggest triumphs this year have come on even bigger stages—he won his first two Masters 1000 titles in Miami and Madrid—he’s made all of his big ranking debuts after the three ATP 500 events he’s played in 2022:

~ Top 20 debut after winning Rio (No. 29 to No. 20 on February 21, 2022)
~ Top 10 debut after winning Barcelona (No. 11 to No. 9 on April 25, 2022)
~ Top 5 debut after Hamburg (result pending, No. 6 to at least No. 5 on July 22, 2022)

The 19-year-old Spaniard has also won 24 of his last 26 matches on clay and 37 of his last 41 overall matches, stretches that both date back to mid-February.

Alcaraz is a win away from becoming the first man to win five ATP titles this year. He's currently tied with Rafael Nadal at four.

Alcaraz is a win away from becoming the first man to win five ATP titles this year. He's currently tied with Rafael Nadal at four.


Awaiting Alcaraz in the final will be 20-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who snapped the eight-match winning streak of Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo in the first semifinal of the day, 6-3, 7-6 (3), to reach the first ATP final of his career.

Musetti will also make a big ranking debut on Monday—he’ll break into the Top 50 for the first time, rising from No. 62 to approximately No. 40 by reaching the final, and could rise to just outside the Top 30 should he go on to win the title.

“It means a lot for me,” said Musetti, who withstood an onslaught from the Cerundolo forehand, which produced 21 winners to 9 unforced errors in the match.

“I wasn’t playing my best tennis last week, so I didn’t expect to be in the final here. I saved two match points in the first round against [Dusan] Lajovic, too, so I don’t understand why I’m here. But I’m really looking forward to playing my first ATP final.

"I will try my best to win.”

Alcaraz, 19, and Musetti, 20, are currently the youngest and fifth-youngest players in the Top 100 of the ATP rankings. They’ve met once before, though it was below tour-level and neither player was anywhere near the player they are now—a No. 310-ranked Alcaraz defeated a No. 280-ranked Musetti in the semifinals of a clay-court Challenger in Trieste, Italy in August 2020, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.