Ruud Levels US Open Final Against Alcaraz
Casper Ruud has won the second set against Carlos Alcaraz to level the US Open final 4-6, 6-2 on Sunday. In a historic winner-takes-all showdown, the victor will capture their first Grand Slam trophy and become the 28th player to secure the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking.
With the world watching, the Norwegian has grown into the clash on Arthur Ashe stadium. He has hit with greater consistency, depth and precision from the baseline, soaking up Alcaraz’s explosive power and finding the corners to level the match after one hour and 30 minutes.
Ruud arrived at Flushing Meadows as the World No. 7, having suffered a shock second-round exit against #NextGenATP American Ben Shelton in Cincinnati. However, if the 23-year-old defeats Alcaraz to earn his 45th win of the year, he will leave the hard-court major in top spot, recording the biggest jump to No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (since 1973). He will also become the first Norwegian to climb to top spot.
The 19-year-old Alcaraz is seeking to become the youngest Grand Slam champion since countryman Rafael Nadal, 19, lifted the trophy at Roland Garros in 2005 and the youngest US Open titlist since Pete Sampras, 19, in 1990.
If the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion can defeat the Norwegian and capture his 51st win of the season, he will also become the youngest player and fourth Spaniard to rise to No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (since 1973). Spaniards Juan Carlos Ferrero – Alcaraz’s current coach – Carlos Moya and Nadal have all previously risen to top spot.
In a lively first set, both looked to attack second serves, stepping inside the baseline on return to earn the first blow in the brutal baseline exchanges. Alcaraz and Ruud fended off two break points in their opening services games before the Spaniard made his move to break for 2-1 when Ruud struck a forehand wide. The third seed, who hit 13 winners in the set, consistently scampered around the baseline to turn defence into attack, while he moved forward effectively to close points at the net.
Ruud refused to go away at the start of the second set and began to hurt Alcaraz more with his penetrating groundstrokes. The fifth seed crucially saved a break point at 2-2, before he broke Alcaraz in the following game to gain a foothold and belief. Ruud started to come out on top in the all-court exchanges, while he reduced his mistakes, committing just two unforced errors in the set to level.
Ruud survived a five-set epic against Tommy Paul in the third round, before he raised his level against seeds Matteo Berrettini and Karen Khachanov to reach his second Grand Slam final. The 23-year-old fell to Nadal in straight sets in the Roland Garros championship match in June.
Alcaraz has showcased an abundance of quality and grit to move through the field at Flushing Meadows. In a dramatic run at the hard-court major, he has won late-night five-set thrillers against Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe to advance to his maiden major final, saving one match point against Italian Sinner.
Ruud, who had never been beyond the third round in four previous appearances at Flushing Meadows, has captured nine tour-level titles, including three this season. Alcaraz has lifted four tour-level trophies in 2022, including two ATP Masters 1000 crowns. The third seed, who qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals earlier this week, leads Ruud 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, having most recently defeated the Norwegian in the Miami final in April.
Did You Know?
Sunday’s final is the first Grand Slam championship match featuring two players who are competing for their maiden major title and the World No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking.