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Alcaraz, Ruud Carry Weight Of World Into US Open Final

  • Posted: Sep 10, 2022

Alcaraz, Ruud Carry Weight Of World Into US Open Final

Winner to lift maiden Grand Slam trophy and become new World No. 1

There are high stakes matches, and then there is Sunday’s US Open championship match (4pm EDT/10pm CEST) between Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud.

Both players stand one victory from their maiden Grand Slam crown, a feat that would simultaneously propel them to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday. The match is already a history-maker. It is the first Grand Slam men’s final featuring two players competing for both their first major title and the World No. 1 ranking, a winner-takes-all showdown set to bring the Grand Slam action for 2022 to a thrilling close.

“We’re playing for the tournament and also World No. 1,” said Ruud after his semi-final win against Karen Khachanov on Friday. “Of course, there will be nerves and we will both feel it.”

How To Watch The Final

Depending on the result, another milestone will fall on Sunday night in New York. Ruud is aiming to become the first Norwegian man to win a Grand Slam title, while Alcaraz seeks to become the youngest No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings at the age of 19 years and four months. Read More On The Battle For No. 1.

Youngest World No. 1s in Pepperstone ATP Rankings History

Player Age Reached No. 1
Lleyton Hewitt 20 years, 9 months
Marat Safin 20 years, 10 months
John McEnroe 21 years, 1 month
Andy Roddick 21 years, 2 months
Bjorn Borg 21 years, 3 months

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After not dropping a set in the first three matches of his US Open campaign, Alcaraz has taken a somewhat different path to victory from the fourth round onwards at Flushing Meadows.

The #NextGenATP Spaniard needed five sets to defeat Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe in a trio of back-to-back thrillers, a clear demonstration of the physical strides made by the 19-year-old in recent months. A year ago in New York, he was forced to retire from his quarter-final against Felix Auger-Aliassime having come through tough five-setters in his two previous matches. As he prepares to take on Ruud on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday, Alcaraz is not worried about his recent workload taking its toll.

“I would say now I’m more prepared [than last year],” said Alcaraz, who has spent 20 hours, 19 minutes on court in the tournament so far. “Last year I just played three Grand Slams before the US Open, and I had just played, I’m going to say, one match of five sets. Now I’ve played more matches of five sets, I am more prepared mentally and physically.”

Should his meeting with Ruud also go the distance, Alcaraz can look back on an impressive 8-1 career record in fifth sets, something he attributes to his ability to raise his level when the pressure is ramped up.

“I lost one in Australia this year against Berrettini, but it could have been a victory for me too,” said Alcaraz. “The key moment is when I give my best. That’s why I’ve won eight of the nine fifth sets I’ve played in my career. Today it has been shown that I am physically prepared to be able to play good tennis despite all the hours on the court. I’m not afraid of the final after qualifying like this. I will go for it.”

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Ferrero: ‘Alcaraz Is A Ferocious Competitor’

The Spaniard will also look to his previous two meetings with Ruud for confidence. Alcaraz defeated the Norwegian on clay in Marbella in 2021, before securing another straight-sets victory in the final in Miami in March to lift his first ATP Masters 1000 crown.

“I feel capable of beating him again,” said Alcaraz. “He has already played a Grand Slam final, and for me everything will be new. But everything new in my career I have faced in a good way. I hope to do the same on Sunday. I’m going to try to show my best version”.

Ruud’s run to his maiden major final at Roland Garros in July may have been abruptly ended by 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal on the Parisian clay, but the Norwegian is viewing Sunday’s clash against Alcaraz with completely fresh eyes and believes the experience will even help when he steps onto Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.

“I mean, Roland Garros, the final, [Nadal] obviously gave me a good beating,” said Ruud. “After the final I said, If I ever reach one again, I hope it is not Rafa on the other side of the court in Roland Garros, because it’s sort of an impossible task I think for any player. I’m happy that it’s not Rafa on clay.

“I hope it can have prepared me a little bit. At least I know a little bit what I’m facing when I’m stepping on the court, seeing the trophy on the back of the court, seeing tons of celebrities. Even in Roland Garros, there were royal families there watching. That was a little bit new experience for me. I hope I can be more ready for that on Sunday.”

Ruud has certainly been ready for whatever circumstances he has faced so far this fortnight in New York. The fifth seed kept cool to down home favourite Tommy Paul in five sets in the third round, while his quarter-final triumph against 13th seed Matteo Berrettini was in stark contrast to that battle. Ruud produced one of his most dominant displays of the year to ease past the big-hitting Italian in straight sets.

The Norwegian believes he will have to play just as aggressively on Sunday if he wants to notch his first win against Alcaraz at the third attempt.

“I think if I want to beat Carlos, I’ll need to play very precise with all the shots that I hit,” said Ruud. “Especially try to keep him a little bit further back in the court, to play with good depth and length on all my shots.

“If he steps in, he can do anything with the ball. He can rip a winner. He also has great touch with the dropshot. I think he has one of the best dropshots on tour. He can do both shots back and forth, it will sort of get you off guard sometimes with the dropshot.

“If you play with good depth and good length, it’s tougher to hit dropshots. That will be something that I will try to focus on.”

The US Open final between Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud is scheduled to begin not before 4pm local time (EDT)/10pm CEST on Sunday, 11 September. See TV Schedule.

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Clar On What Might Help Ruud 'Handle The Situation' Against Alcaraz

  • Posted: Sep 10, 2022

Clar On What Might Help Ruud ‘Handle The Situation’ Against Alcaraz

One of Ruud’s coaches looks ahead to the US Open final

It’s a unique opportunity. There is much more at stake on Sunday at the US Open than a title. Both Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz are playing for their first major and to become the No. 1 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

One of them will be the 28th player to top the rankings in the Open Era. Both the Norwegian and the Spaniard have earned the opportunity on court this season, as two of the three players with the most wins in 2022. Alcaraz is the ATP Tour’s match wins leader (50), while Ruud is in third (44).

Ruud, who entered the tournament at No. 7 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, is bidding to make a leap to its pinnacle bigger than any man has done before him. Pedro Clar, a Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar coach, has had a front-row seat for the evolution of the 23-year-old, Oslo-born player.

“The whole team is happy to reach another Grand Slam final,” revealed the Spanish coach. “At the start of the year, it was not something that was in our plans. After playing in Paris, now he’s in another Grand Slam final, and to do it on [a] fast court is even more noteworthy.”

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Despite not being able to participate in the Australian Open due to an ankle injury, Ruud’s performance at the Grand Slams has been outstanding, with a 13-2 record. Now, he is looking to put the icing on the cake at Flushing Meadows.

“Sunday will be a thrilling match, they are both playing very well and the reward for victory, as we know, will be twofold,” said Clar. “Maybe the fact that Casper played in the Paris final this year will, in some way, help him handle the situation better and control his emotions. But without a doubt I think he will have to have his best level to be able to win.”

Ruud’s Spanish mentor made another point: “Whoever is more mentally stable might be the one who performs best in the final.”

So far, the Norwegian has taken down six opponents en route to the final. He started his path against Kyle Edmund before beating Tim van Rijthoven, then managed to come through a dramatic five-set clash against Tommy Paul in the third round.

In the second week he saw off Corentin Moutet in the last sixteen and sent Matteo Berrettini packing in the quarter-finals. On Friday, Ruud defeatedd Karen Khachanov to seal his passage into his second Grand Slam final.

“He has increased his level of tennis in every match he has played,” explained Clar. “Casper has grown through this US Open. The early rounds are always difficult to play, there’s more pressure because you want to do well in the tournament. But he has played better in each match and increased his level right up to the final.”

On Sunday, he will be playing for glory, but he will be met on the other side of the net by an opponent who shares his dreams of greatness. All will be decided inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

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‘Stormy, We Got One!’ Peers/Sanders Claim US Open Mixed Doubles Crown

  • Posted: Sep 10, 2022

‘Stormy, We Got One!’ Peers/Sanders Claim US Open Mixed Doubles Crown

Australian duo triumphs in first tournament playing as a team

John Peers and Storm Sanders’ long-held plan to team up on the doubles court proved worth the wait at the US Open, where the Australian pair defeated Kirsten Flipkens and Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Saturday to lift the mixed doubles title at the hard-court Grand Slam.

Peers and Sanders held their nerve in a Match Tie-break to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 final victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The fourth seeds were making their debut as a team this fortnight and they dropped just two sets all tournament to surge to the title in New York.

“I can’t believe we are Grand Slam champions, that’s crazy,” said Sanders when addressing Peers at the trophy presentation. “So, thank you so much for playing with me. We’ve been trying to set it up for the past year and I really enjoyed every moment on court with you.”

“Stormy, we got one! Well done,” said Peers to his title-winning partner. “It’s been a pleasure this week and a lot of fun, so hopefully we’ve got a few more coming up at some point.”

Peers and Sanders had been under pressure early in the championship match after dropping a first set in which they let slip three break point opportunities against Belgian-French duo Flipkens and Roger-Vasselin. The Australian pair made no mistake in the second set, decisively breaking in the 10th game to level proceedings.

A to-and-fro Match Tie-break ultimately went the way of Peers and Sanders after they won five of the final six points in the match, with a huge Peers ace down the middle sealing an 86-minute win. The fourth seeds were solid on delivery throughout, winning 83 per cent (34/41) of points behind their first serves.

“Congrats Flipper and Eddie on a really great two weeks,” said Sanders to Flipkens and Roger-Vasselin, who were playing together at a Grand Slam for the second time. “Today could have gone either way, so well done and good luck for the rest of the year.”

It is a first mixed doubles Grand Slam title for both Peers and Sanders. Peers, who is currently No. 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings, also won the 2017 Australian Open men’s doubles title alongside Henri Kontinen.

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Alcaraz: ‘Incredible’ Semi-Final Win Fulfils Childhood Dream

  • Posted: Sep 10, 2022

Alcaraz: ‘Incredible’ Semi-Final Win Fulfils Childhood Dream

Spaniard downed home favourite Tiafoe to reach first major final

Carlos Alcaraz stands just one win away from his maiden Grand Slam crown and the World No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The stakes will have never been higher for the Spaniard in Sunday’s championship match at the US Open, but that wasn’t going to stop the 19-year-old taking time to revel in the moment after defeating Frances Tiafoe in a thrilling semi-final on Friday night.

“Well, [the final] is close. But at the same time is so far away, you know?” said Alcaraz in the aftermath of his five-set win. “It’s a final of a Grand Slam, fighting for the No. 1 in the world, something that I dream since I was a kid.

“What [can I] say? It is the final of a Grand Slam. Right now, I’m going to enjoy this moment. My first Grand Slam final. I will have time tomorrow to think about [winning the title].”

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Alcaraz Wins Epic Against Tiafoe, Sets Historic Winner-Takes-All US Open Final

After prevailing in a quarter-final classic against Jannik Sinner on Wednesday at Flushing Meadows, Alcaraz went the distance again on Friday against home favourite Tiafoe. It marked another stern test for the Spaniard’s Grand Slam credentials, but he held firm to set a championship match against Casper Ruud.

“It was incredible for me,” said Alcaraz. “I think I played great against Frances, who was playing unbelievable, as well, these two weeks. It’s an incredible feeling to be in a final, to be able to win this match after four hours, 20 minutes.

“I feel great right now. I mean, a little bit tired. But, yeah, I feel good, I feel great. Right now, I’m just so, so happy. I thought about a young man 10 years ago dreaming for this moment right now. Yeah, I’m feeling great.”

After letting slip a match point at 5-4 in the fourth set, Alcaraz held firm in the decider in the face of vociferous home support for Tiafoe. Yet the third seed was able to keep his focus on the considerable section of the crowd that was in his own corner as he relished the electric atmosphere on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I would say that 70% [of support], it was from the Frances [fans]. But I just hear the remaining 30%, you know? It was crazy. The night session here in Arthur Ashe in US Open, it’s crazy.”

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Alcaraz let slip a match point when leading 5-4 in the fourth set against Tiafoe, after the American successfully chased down a drop shot from the Spaniard. Despite one of his trademark weapons costing him a point at a key moment, Alcaraz insists that his creativity is part of what has made him the player he is today.

“It was a tough moment for me, losing that match ball in that way, doing a dropshot that I could finish with a good forehand that I was hitting pretty well,” he said. “But I knew that I had to stay in the match, to stay calm, to stay playing well. I was playing well. But, yeah, it was a tough fourth set.

“I never give up, I try to fight for every point,” he added. “And some of those points help me to motivate myself, to smile and enjoy the moment. Sometimes you have to do a little magic, right?”

Alcaraz announced himself on the Grand Slam stage in New York a year ago, when he earned five-set wins against Peter Gojowczyk and Stefanos Tsitsipas before being forced to retire from his quarter-final against Felix Auger-Aliassime. Despite back-to-back five-setters against Jannik Sinner and Tiafoe in the past three days in New York, the 19-year-old is not worried about running out of steam for Sunday’s championship match against Casper Ruud.

“I would say now I’m more prepared,” said Alcaraz. “Last year I just played three Grand Slams before US Open, and I had just played, I’m going to say, one match [of] five sets.

“Now I’ve played more matches in five sets, I am more prepared mentally and physically. Yeah, it was 12 months of working hard in the gym, on the court. But I would say it’s all mental.”

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Alcaraz’s next test is a third tour-level meeting against Ruud, who he defeated in straight sets in Miami in March to lift his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown. It is the Norwegian who enters Sunday’s clash with Grand Slam final experience, however, having reached the championship match at Roland Garros in July.

“I feel capable of beating him again,” said Alcaraz. “He has already played a Grand Slam final, and for me everything will be new. But everything new in my career I have faced in a good way. I hope to do the same on Sunday. I’m going to try to show my best version.”

With the winner set to become the new No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the stakes have never been higher for Alcaraz or Ruud. Yet the Spaniard feels he has all the tools in place to handle the pressure.

“Right now I’m not afraid of that moment,” said Alcaraz. “I have prepared myself mentally and physically to be able to live that moment, to fight for great things. But now it’s time to recover and enjoy. Tomorrow will be the day to mentally prepare for the final”.

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Tiafoe: ‘Craziest Two Weeks’ Provide Grand Slam Belief

  • Posted: Sep 10, 2022

Tiafoe: ‘Craziest Two Weeks’ Provide Grand Slam Belief

American reflects positively on run to maiden major semi-final at US Open

His 2022 US Open dream may have been ended by Carlos Alcaraz on Friday night, but Frances Tiafoe believes his run to the semi-finals in New York could be the start of something bigger.

“I just proved that, honestly, I can play with the best obviously, and I’m capable of winning Grand Slams,” said Tiafoe after falling to the Spaniard in an epic five-setter at Flushing Meadows. “I think everyone knew when I play my best what I could do. But you know how close I can actually be to be one of those guys and to do this consistently.

“Obviously through my career I’ve been pretty sporadic of playing well, veering off for a while. I’ve always backed myself against the best players in the world. I’m doing it on a consistent basis, starting to beat guys more readily. [I’m] ready to take the next step.”

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Alcaraz Wins Epic Against Tiafoe, Sets Historic Winner-Takes-All US Open Final

Tiafoe’s whirlwind fortnight in New York saw him become the only man to defeat Rafael Nadal at a major in 2022 with a fourth-round victory, before he reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final with a sublime straight-sets win against ninth seed Andrey Rublev.

“I haven’t even let it soak in yet, honestly,” said the American. “But craziest two weeks of my life. Craziest two weeks of my life. Stuff you dream about doing.

“[I] fell a little short. But, I mean, getting to the fourth round three years in a row, that’s already a good accomplishment. Beating Rafa, being the only player to beat Rafa in a Slam this year, the year he’s had. Him being in the race to be No. 1 in the world, shut that down.

“Just saying you beat him in a Grand Slam… It’s not an easy task. To have my first time beating him here in New York in front of everybody and seeing what that meant, that was crazy.”

Tiafoe believes a new approach to training and match preparation has been a key driver of his successes in New York.

“I’m definitely falling in love with the process and doing the work much more,” said Tiafoe, who is set to break the Top 20 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday. “I’m working smarter, I’m understanding. I’ve always tried hard, but [I’m making] my weaknesses stronger, breaking down my game a lot more, and I am a student of the game again.

“I always knew to put two weeks together is obviously the toughest thing in the world. That’s why only three guys were doing it for so long. After getting this deep, I understand how much rest is important during two weeks of slams. Again, I didn’t go out to dinner one time. Just resting. It’s tough. I mean, it’s definitely tough, three-out-of-five.”

Tiafoe’s exploits have captured the imagination of the home fans this fortnight. As it had during his triumphs against Nadal and Rublev, the support for Tiafoe from the stands contributed to a deafening atmosphere inside Arthur Ashe Stadium for his semi-final clash with Alcaraz. He and the Spaniard responded in kind, treating the crowd to a pulsating four-hour, 19-minute epic.

“It was so electric,” said Tiafoe. “I mean, the tennis definitely matched the hype of the match. Unbelievable shot-making, gets, extending points, crazy shots, I mean, at crazy times.

“I was getting riled up. People love to see that guy play, so they were getting behind him, too. Obviously, I would have loved to win tonight, but I think tennis won tonight. I think the crowd got what they expected. I just wish I was the one who got the W.”

Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, was among Tiafoe’s supporters in the crowd during Saturday’s semi-final. For Tiafoe, her presence added another surreal element to an already whirlwind fortnight.

“[It was] crazy getting to meet her after,” said the 24-year-old. “[I’ve] seen her before, but it’s a little bit different circumstance. She sees me and she’s actually excited to see me. Yeah, unbelievable. Unbelievable night.”

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Tiafoe was full of praise for Alcaraz, who will take on Casper Ruud in Sunday’s championship match. Should the Spaniard triumph and lift his maiden Grand Slam crown, he will also become the youngest No. 1 spot in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

“I think it’s going to be very tough to play him [in future],” said Tiafoe. “He’s one of the best players in the world, for sure. He’s so young. He hits the ball so hard. I never played a guy who moves as well as him, honestly. I’ve seen him get a lot of balls, but I was hitting some drop volleys that I’ve been hitting. He’s getting there. How he’s able to extend points, incredible.

“He’s a hell of a player. He’s going to be a problem for a very long time.”

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One particularly positive sign for Tiafoe moving forward is the way he handled the high-pressure moments during his run in New York. The 22nd seed won eight from eight tie-breaks he played across his six matches this fortnight, including two against Alcaraz on Friday.

“I don’t know,” said Tiafoe, when asked about the secret behind his tie-break success. “I guess the breakers are just making sense. I really don’t know what to say. Usually in the other breakers, I was serving huge. Today I wasn’t serving so well at all. So, I was playing really well from the back.

“To seven points, you can get a little rhythm. If you get hot early, get on the guy. Plus the crowd’s behind me. You know, the guy gets a little nervous.

“It’s not easy to go 8-0 in breakers. I played a lot in this tournament. I wish the fifth [set] was a breaker, because maybe I would have been 9-and-0.”

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Alcaraz Wins Epic Against Tiafoe, Sets Historic Winner-Takes-All US Open Final

  • Posted: Sep 10, 2022

Alcaraz Wins Epic Against Tiafoe, Sets Historic Winner-Takes-All US Open Final

Third seeds will play Ruud for the trophy

Carlos Alcaraz on Friday evening guaranteed there will be a winner-takes-all US Open final for the season’s final Grand Slam trophy and the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking.

The third seed battled past home favourite Frances Tiafoe 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 after four hours and 19 minutes to reach his first major championship match. Alcaraz is the second teen to make the US Open final in the Open Era, joining legendary American Pete Sampras.

“To be honest in the semi-final of a Grand Slam you have to give everything… we have to fight until the last ball. It doesn’t matter if we are fighting for five hours, six hours. It doesn’t matter. You have to give everything on court,” Alcaraz said. “Frances gave everything on court. This is amazing.”

Alcaraz, who has won three consecutive five-setters lasting a combined 13 hours and 28 minutes, will face Norwegian Casper Ruud for the title. The winner will claim his first Slam crown as well as World No. 1. If the Spaniard triumphs, he will become the youngest World No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (since 1973). 

“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things. First time in the final of a Grand Slam. I can see the No. 1 in the world, but at the same time it’s so far away,” Alcaraz said. “I have one more to go against a player who is unbelievable. He deserves to play a final. He played the final of a Grand Slam in Roland Garros. This is my first time. 

“I’m going to give everything that I have. I will have to handle the nerves of being in a final of a Grand Slam, but obviously I’m really, really happy and as I said before every match, I’m going to enjoy. I’m going to enjoy the moment and let’s see what happens.”

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Tiafoe put up an admirable fight against the two-time ATP Masters 1000 champion, playing aggressively and winning two memorable tie-breaks to move to 8-0 in tie-breaks at this year’s US Open. But Alcaraz never faltered under the pressure inside a raucuous Arthur Ashe Stadium, improving to 8-1 in five-setters, including 5-0 at Flushing Meadows.

The home favourite showed no fear, no matter the deficit he faced. Late in the fourth set, Tiafoe could be heard saying “I’m putting my heart on the f****** line” twice in a row. But ultimately, Alcaraz played from in front for too long in the match for the 22nd seed to overcome.

“I gave everything I had left tonight,” Tiafoe said. “Too good Carlos, I am happy I got to share the big stage with you.” 

The key came at 1-1 in the second set, when Tiafoe earned a break point to go up a set and a break. Alcaraz carved a poor drop shot, to which Tiafoe replied with a drop shot of his own, missing wide. Instead of surging ahead by a set and a break, he allowed the Spaniard to gain momentum.

As well as Tiafoe did in the first hour of the match to prevent his opponent from dominating baseline play, he struggled to slow down the ‘Alcaraz Avalanche’ the rest of their clash. The reigning Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion broke for a 4-2 lead in the set and found his best tennis from there.

The longer the match went on, it was clear Tiafoe was fighting to reach a state of neutrality in the action. He was throwing all the shots in his arsenal at Alcaraz, but was unable to put the third seed into discomfort long enough for the five-time ATP Tour titlist to drop his level.

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Alcaraz took Tiafoe’s best shots and as soon as the American slowed down his flurry, he accelerated like a runaway train rolling downhill. What proved especially costly for the home favourite was his low first-serve percentage of 47 per cent, which gave Alcaraz an opportunity to take the initiative far too often.

The crowd, which is almost always on Tiafoe’s side, urged both men on, cheering the many incredible rallies between the pair. The fans helped the American hang on in the fourth set, recovering a service break twice during a stretch of four consecutive breaks.

Alcaraz showed no ill effects physically following his quarter-final epic against Jannik Sinner, which was the second-longest match in US Open history (five hours, 15 minutes), resulting in the latest-ever finish at the tournament (2:50 a.m.). So despite Tiafoe playing a courageous fourth-set tie-break, the Spaniard was physically ready for the decider.

Although Alcaraz relinquished one break advantage in the fifth set, he did not let slip a second. After Tiafoe missed a final shot in the net, the Spaniard fell to his back and celebration. Tiafoe quickly went to the other side of the court and the pair shared a warm embrace. Alcaraz became the first player on Tour to reach 50 wins in 2022, improving to 50-9 on the season.

Despite the loss, Tiafoe enjoyed a breakthrough tournament, advancing to his first major semi-final. During his run, the American stunned 22-time Slam winner Rafael Nadal and upset ninth seed Andrey Rublev.

Did You Know?
The longer the points went, the more they tilted in Alcaraz’s favour. The 19-year-old won 67 per cent of points (72/107) that lasted at least five shots.

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Ruud Analyses 55-Shot Rally That Turned US Open Semi-final

  • Posted: Sep 10, 2022

Ruud Analyses 55-Shot Rally That Turned US Open Semi-final

Norwegian is into his second major final

Casper Ruud advanced to his second Grand Slam final and his first at the US Open with a four-set win against Karen Khachanov on Friday. One point might have made all the difference.

At 6/5 in the first-set tie-break, the pair engaged in a long rally. Neither man took control of the point until Ruud unleashed a backhand up the line that Khachanov missed into the net. The 55-shot rally not only earned Ruud the set, but gave him a heavy dose of momentum leading into the set set, which he claimed 6-2.

“It was a very important point in the match. Of course, set point. I had not wasted two because he served well on the two previous set points. I knew this [was] a chance to win the first set. I’m on my serve,” Ruud recalled. “I missed a serve by small margins the first serve. Looked like it could be an ace. Second serve we played for the rally. I think we both just refused to do a mistake knowing how important that point is.”

Both players struck the ball with plenty of margin until Ruud cracked the backhand that ultimately decided the point.

“That’s fun with tennis because some of the best rallies of all time, longer rallies of all times, often come in important points because we both realise how important it is. You don’t want to do a mistake,” Ruud said. “Towards the end the pulse was getting very high and the legs were almost shaking at a point. I was able to at one point there where I just ripped the backhand down the line and went for it sort of. Could stretch my arms in the air and win the first set.

“Like I said, I think it was a key factor to win the second set, and that gave of course motivation and energy to play good and keep going in the second.”

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The 55-stroke rally was the longest of the tournament as of the end of the match, according to tournament officials. The next-longest rally of the event came between Daniil Medvedev and Wu Yibing, which lasted 36 shots, in the third round.

Although Khachanov battled hard, the lengthy rally put him in too deep of a hole. Ruud moved into his second major final of the season, after also reaching the championship match at Roland Garros.

The stakes will be even higher for Ruud on this occasion. If Carlos Alcaraz defeats Frances Tiafoe in tonight’s second semi-final, Ruud will need to beat Alcaraz for the trophy on Sunday to leave New York with the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking.

“I think what’s most fair is if we both reach the final and whoever wins the final reaches the World No. 1. That would be I think the ideal situation,” Ruud said. “If I go to bed as No. 1, I will sleep pretty damn well, I guess.”

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