New York | Alcaraz and Ruud shootout for title and No.1

The final major of the season always brings with it surprises and this year has been no exception resulting in two young players representing the future of the game, facing each other for the US Open title with the winner also rising to the top of the world rankings

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. Carlos Alcaraz

The pair of 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, seeded three, and fifth seed Casper Ruud, aged 23, will have their High Noon moment on Sunday and as things currently stand, there is no clear favourite though the Spanish teenager holds a 2-0 advantage over the Norwegian.

In result terms over the last two weeks, Ruud has had the easier run having played four 4-setters as against Alcaraz’s three 5-setters in six matches – all three have been back-to-back from the fourth round, his third lasting just 4-hours and 19-minutes. In total he has now played 15 sets over 13-hours and 28-minutes with one match finishing at 2-50am!

In the evening match of the scheduled semi-finals Alcaraz beat American hope Frances Tiafoe 6-7(6) 6-3 6-1 6-7(5) 6-3 to reach his first major final whilst Rudd took out the Moscow resident Karen Khachanov 7-6(5) 6-2 5-7 6-2, for his second final appearance, his first being at Roland Garros earlier in the season where he lost to Rafa Nadal.

As is becoming his practice, Alcaraz laid it all out on the court.

“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 declared, giving Tiafoe credit for doing the same by adding: “Frances gave everything on court. This is amazing.”

Alcaraz saw two break points come and go in the seventh game of the opener before needing to save a set point in the 12th which featured a breath-taking rally that the Spaniard claimed from two seemingly losing positions.

The teenager then saved three more set points in the tie-break, but Tiafoe converted his fifth when Alcaraz served up his third double fault of the 64-minute opener.


Carlos Alcaraz hugs Frances Tiafoe following their semi-final match

Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Alcaraz saved a break point in the third game of the second set, at one stage stretching for a winning point with his back facing Tiafoe to win another memorable rally to level the match.

Considering the time he has spent on court over the last few days, Alcaraz looked remarkably fresh as he raced to a 4-0 lead with a double break in the third set with Tiafoe earning just three points, breaking him for a third time in the seventh game!

World number 26 Tiafoe, who knocked Nadal out of the tournament in the last-16, was hoping to become the first American man in a major final since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009, fought back in the fourth retrieving two breaks and saving a match point in the 10th game with a drop shot to bring himself back in contention by taking the second tie-break of the match.

With everything to play for in the decider, it was Alcaraz who quickly took control to lead 2-0 only for Tiafoe to level at 2-2 and despite his valiant fight back, he double faulted to hand back the advantage to his younger rival in the fifth game.

The 24-year-old American saved two more match points in the ninth game before Alcaraz went on to seal his memorable victory when his opponent netted a tired looking backhand.

Alcaraz now becomes the youngest man to reach a major final since his idol and compatriot Nadal at the 2005 French, and the youngest at the US Open since Pete Sampras won it in 1990.

“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, who hit 59 winners, said after his victory. “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.”

Disappointment for the 24-year-old American who carried home hopes.

“I gave everything I had, too good from Carlos tonight,” Tiafoe admitted as he told the crowd: “Honestly, I came here wanting to win the US Open, I feel like I let you guys down. This one really hurts.”


Casper Ruud raises his arms in joy at making his second grand slam final

Al Bello/Getty Images

Earlier in the day, Ruud became the first Norwegian to reach the title match at Flushing Meadows and looks to be in excellent form as he dismantled the Muscovite over four sets.

The world No.5 set the tone for his dominance early in the match when he came out on top in a 55-shot rally to convert a third set point in the opening tiebreak which his rival later described as “crazy”!

He dominated the second set winning every point on serve only for Khachanov to finally respond by winning the third before Ruud rebounded to cruise through the fourth.

“This match today was another great match from my side,” Ruud told the crowd. “I think we were both a bit nervous at the beginning, a few breaks back and forth. But you have to take into account that this match is probably the biggest in both of our careers. Of course, there will also be some nerves, but I was fortunate to win that first set, which calmed my nerves a little bit.

“I played phenomenal in the second and Karen stepped up in the third. It was back and forth but I am just so happy.

“After Roland Garros I was extremely happy but of course humble enough to think that could be my only final at a Grand Slam in my career. It doesn’t come easy, but here I am back again a couple [of] months later.”

Fans can expect a high-quality final.


Casper Ruud at full stretch

Frey/TPN/Getty Images


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