Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz at the US Open will be the first Grand Slam men’s singles final to feature two players with chance to become world No 1 for the first time; Alcaraz said: “I have one more to go against a player who plays incredible. I’m going to give everything that I have”
Sunday 11 September 2022 17:51, UK
Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz will meet in Sunday’s US Open men’s singles final with both chasing a maiden major trophy and top spot in the rankings.
Ruud’s only titles so far have come at the lowest level of the ATP Tour, and all but one have been on clay, but he has made big strides this season, not least reaching his first major final at the French Open where he was well beaten by Rafael Nadal.
Alcaraz’s run in New York will be remembered for a long time, whether or not he wins the title.
The teenager – who is bidding to become the youngest ever world No 1 – has played three five-set matches back-to-back.
Having finished after 2am against both Marin Cilic and then Jannik Sinner in the match of the tournament so far, he played another night-session classic against Frances Tiafoe to reach Sunday’s showpiece.
Ruud is already the best player in his country’s history having picked up a love of the sport from his father Christian, who was a top-50 player in the 1990s.
It is a phenomenal period in Norwegian sporting history, with the small country’s athletes leading the world not just in its traditional winter sports but also in athletics and triathlon as well as tennis.
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All are trumped so far, though, by Manchester City’s goal machine Erling Haaland, and Ruud said: “He’s had an unbelievable season so far. We all hope he keeps going. It’s a joy to watch him score goal after goal.
“He’s obviously the biggest star we have in Norway for the moment. He’ll probably continue to be so for many more years.
“I’m just focused on my career. I hope I can, of course, win more tournaments in my career. I want to represent Norway in a good way and put Norwegian tennis a little bit more on the map than it’s been the last years.”
Ruud also hopes his experiences at Roland Garros can help against Alcaraz, who will play in his first Grand Slam final at the age of 19.
“(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. I hope I can be more ready for that on Sunday.”
2022: Carlos Alcaraz vs Casper Ruud
2021: Daniil Medvedev
2020: Dominic Thiem
2014: Marin Cilic
2012: Andy Murray
2009: Juan Martin del Potro
2003: Andy Roddick
2001: Lleyton Hewitt
2000: Marat Safin
1997: Pat Rafter
1990: Pete Sampras
1979: John McEnroe
1975: Manuel Orantes
1972: Ilie Nastase
1971: Stan Smith
1968: Arthur Ashe
Alcaraz is youngest Grand Slam finalist since Rafael Nadal at 2005 at the French Open and US Open finalist since Pete Sampras in 1990. Both won the title.
If he can beat Casper Ruud, Alcaraz would become the youngest man to be crowned world number one, breaking the mark set by Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who was 20 when he became the world’s top ranked player in 2001.
The Spaniard is 8-1 in five-setters, including 5-0 at US Open and 3-0 at 2022 US Open.
Alcaraz, who has spent nearly 20 hours on court in six matches, said: “I feel great right now. A little bit tired. I’m just so, so happy. I thought about a young man 10 years ago dreaming for this moment.
“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things. First time in a final of a Grand Slam. I can see the number one but at the same time, it’s so far.
“I have one more to go against a player who plays incredible. I’m going to give everything that I have. I’m going to enjoy the moment and let’s see what happens.”
This was billed as the most open men’s Grand Slam tournament for two decades and the main takeaway from
this fortnight will be that men’s tennis should be excited not apprehensive about the era that is coming.
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