All to play for as Alcaraz and Ruud battle in US Open final
It’s all come down to this!
The 2022 US Open Men’s Singles final is set and there is more than just the title on the line for the two men who have come this far.
Tonight, Casper Ruud will face Carlos Alcaraz. No.5 seed v No.3 seed, two players having the best year of their young careers.
Whoever wins this will not only claim his maiden Grand Slam title, but will also become the new World No.1, displacing Daniil Medvedev from the summit of the rankings.
This makes the final a winner-takes-all situation in more ways than one, and both men will be hungry for this.
Ruud was probably not one of the favorites coming into the tournament. Known as a ‘clay specialist’, coming this far at a hard-court Slam did not look on the cards for the Norwegian and he was flying under the radar for the first four rounds of the tournament.
The French Open runner-up has now silenced those who believed he would not make a deep run in major events on hard-court to reach his second Grand Slam final this year.
In the last year, Ruud has gradually accumulated points and has put himself in good position to become World No.1 if he clinches the title at Flushing Meadows. If he pulls it off, he will become the first Norwegian player to sit at the top of the rankings.
Ruud’s most convincing win of the tournament came in the quarterfinals against No.13 seed Matteo Berrettini. The match was expected to be an extremely competitive one, but the 23-year-old pulled off one of his most impressive, controlled performances in recent times, surprisingly taking the Italian down in straight sets.
With that victory, Ruud had sent a message and it has gotten the attention of those who had overlooked him all tournament.
Ruud’s path to the final:
First round: Kyle Edmund (6-3, 7-5, 6-2)
Second round: Tim Van Rijthoven (6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4)
Third round: Tommy Paul (7-6. 6-7, 7-6, 5-7, 6-0)
Round of 16: Corentin Moutet (6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2)
Quarterfinals: Matteo Berrettini (6-1, 6-4, 7-6)
Semifinals: Karen Khachanov (7-6, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2)
19-year-old Alcaraz’s meteoric rise has seen him become a household name in a very short time. The Spaniard keeps proving he is worth the hype, more so with the incredible victories he has earned in New York.
Despite never reaching a Grand Slam semifinal before this tournament, Alcaraz was tipped to make a deep run at the last Slam event of the year. Nevertheless, he has exceeded expectations.
In the last three rounds leading up to the final, Alcaraz was forced to go the distance every time, playing five grueling sets in all three matches.
Notably, his quarterfinal match against fellow youngster Jannik Sinner turned out to be the second-longest match in US Open history – five hours and 15 minutes of intense, nail-biting tennis.
Relentless, the Spaniard saved a match point in the fourth set before winning it in the fifth, becoming the youngest US Open semifinalist since Pete Sampras in 1990 and the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since compatriot Rafael Nadal in 2005.
In the semifinals against home favorite Frances Tiafoe, Alcaraz played five sets for the third match in a row for his first Grand Slam final.
Alcaraz has now won more matches than any other man this year, gathered points by winning four titles (two ATP 500s and two Masters 1000s), and could become the youngest World No.1 in ATP history if he wins his first Grand Slam title in New York.
Alcaraz’s road to the final:
First round: Sebastian Baez (7-5, 7-5, 2-0 ret.)
Second round: Federico Coria (6-2, 6-1, 7-5)
Third round: Jenson Brooksby (6-3, 6-3, 6-3)
Round of 16: Marin Cilic (6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3)
Quarterfinals: Jannik Sinner (6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3)
Semifinals: Frances Tiafoe (6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3)
Head-to-head: Alcaraz leads 2-0
Alcaraz has won his two previous clashes with Ruud in straight sets. Their last meeting was at the final of the Miami Open in April, where Alcaraz claimed his first Masters 1000 title.
Now, at a Grand Slam where they will be playing best of five, Alcaraz might not have it as easy.
Ruud definitely comes fresher into the final, as Alcaraz was made to do it the hard way with marathons in his last three games. Alcaraz has shown mind-blowing endurance, but the effects of the long matches could understandably show in this final.
For Alcaraz to win, he will probably need to avoid battling to five sets again.
After losing his first Grand Slam final to Nadal at Roland Garros, Ruud also has the advantage of experience at this stage of a major, unlike Alcaraz who has come this far for the first time.
“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,” Alcaraz said after his win against Tiafoe.
He has truly given everything so far and has shown incredible tenacity to get this far.
“I’m just extremely happy. I thought the French Open might have been the only slam final of my career. Here I am back again a couple of months later. It feels beyond words to describe,” Ruud admitted on his part.
The 23-year-old will be looking to avoid losing a second Grand Slam final.
Any way this swings, history is set to be made at Flushing Meadows.