US Open Final Preview: Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud do battle for Slam glory and number one spot
With a Major triumph, the world number one spot and tennis history all on the line, fans will be hoping Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz put on a spectacle in this year’s US Open final.
The young Spaniard is into his first Slam final on just his eighth main draw appearance, and could become just the second teenage man in the Open Era to win the US Open after Pete Sampras did so more than thirty years ago in 1990.
Meanwhile, Ruud has exemplified his improvement and consistency by making it to a second Slam final this season after reaching the championship match at Roland Garros.
Before the men’s singles final closes proceedings in New York this year, allow Tennishead to tell you everything you should know before this new era ushering final.
US Open and Slam pedigree
After defeating Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Alcaraz reached the quarter-finals of a Slam for the third time, his second at the US Open following his run to the last eight on his debut at Flushing Meadows last year. While the 19-year-old was yet to reach a Major semi-final before the tournament, he had never lost in the first round, and had reached at least the third round in five of seven Slam main draw appearances.
Ruud had little experience of real success in New York before this year’s event, his best result coming in 2020 when he made it to the third round. But 2022 has seen the Norwegian come on leaps and bounds with his game and composure, as he has now reached two Slam finals when previously he had never even made it to a quarter-final before this year’s French Open.
Paths to the US Open final
Alcaraz and Ruud have taken contrasting routes to the championship match on Arthur Ashe Stadium
Sets played: 24 (4 per match) – Time on court: 20 hours and 31 minutes
While Alcaraz has exhilarated and entertained in New York with his stupendous play and fighting spirit, he certainly could have made his run to the final slightly simpler for himself.
After making it to the fourth round without dropping a set, he has played three consecutive five-set epics, including the second longest match in US Open history against Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals, a battle where he saved match point in the fourth set before going on to clinch victory.
Alcaraz has faced five top 50 players in his run to the final, including two top 20 pros, and has faced opponents with an average ranking of around 36th in the world.
Sets played: 23 (3.83 per match) – Time on court: 18 hours and 40 minutes
While Ruud has spent less time on court, he has faced players of a lower rankings stature than Alcaraz. Three of his opponents have been ranked outside the ATP top 100, though the other three have all been top 40.
The average ranking of his six opponents has been 151st in the world, though perhaps an adjusted average of 51st is more appropriate once world number 601 Kyle Edmund is removed from the equation.
Head-to-head: Alcaraz 2-0 Ruud
Despite being more than four years younger than Ruud, it is Alcaraz who leads the pair’s head-to-head, though it is a short-lived one to date.
Their first encounter came in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Andalucia Open in Marbella, then an ATP 250 event. Yet to turn 17 at the time and ranked 133rd in the world, the Spaniard defeated 26th ranked Ruud 6-2, 6-4 to reach his first ever tour level semi-final.
Nearly a year on and with both men now ranked inside the top 20, the pair met in the final of the Miami Masters, a first 1000 level final for each of them. The firepower of Alcaraz was too much for Ruud, defeating the Norwegian for his maiden Masters 1000 title, launching himself from 16th to 11th in the ATP rankings.
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