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Advanced Edition: Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud face off for US Open title, world No. 1
With plenty on the line in this changing-of-the-guard clash, can Alcaraz cap his meteoric rise with a first major or will Ruud get his redemption after his runner-up finish at Roland Garros?
Published Sep 11, 2022
WATCH: Alcaraz and Ruud last faced off in March for what was a first Masters 1000 final for both youngsters in Miami.
NEW YORK—The ATP tour couldn’t have asked for a more narratively satisfying season, starting with Rafael Nadal’s record-breaking 21st major title and ending with the first Grand Slam final to have a maiden major victory and world No. 1 on the line.
The men’s final is a full-circle moment for Spanish teen Carlos Alcaraz, who roared to his first Masters 1000 title in Miami over Casper Ruud, and he’ll have to defeat the Norwegian again on Sunday afternoon.
Ruud has made plenty of improvements since becoming the tour’s preeminent clay-court player, transitioning his heavy forehand and athleticism onto hard courts to reach his second major final of the season.
Will it be Alcaraz's natural talent or Ruud's hard work that takes home the title?
Why Alcaraz Will Win
Everything about Alcaraz just looks destined for greatness. He’s a phenomenal athlete, an aggressive all-courter armed with astounding variety, more physically and mentally fit than his 19 years. And now he competes to become the first man to rise to No. 1 after the US Open since his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003.
The only question was whether the teenager was ready to translate all that potential onto the Grand Slam stage; after disappointing exits from Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the Spaniard has proven that hard courts may indeed be his best surface, rewarding his pace and athleticism through six matches.
A technical descendent of the Big 3, Alcaraz has proven equally durable over the last two weeks, playing three late-night five-setters in a row to knock out Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner—avenging his Wimbledon defeat—and Frances Tiafoe to at last reach his first major final.
Could Alcaraz have anything left in the tank? With nearly 48 hours to recover, it’s quite plausible to think he’ll rebound well enough to maintain his unbeaten record against Ruud. Regardless of whether he pulls this off, expect an even greater assault from Alcaraz on the majors in 2023.
I think if I want to beat Carlos, I'll need to play very precise with all the shots that I hit, especially try to keep him a little bit further back in the court, to play with good depth and length on all my shots. If he steps in, he can do anything with the ball. Casper Ruud on Carlos Alcaraz
Why Ruud Will Win
Ruud was admittedly a shocking candidate to end this tournament atop the ATP rankings. A lot had to fall into place for the 23-year-old, who had to at least make the final to even remain in the conversation.
But Ruud has been determined to change minds in Flushing Meadows, mixing his familiar work ethic with a growing confidence that allows for the kind of flashy tennis we’ve rarely seen from the serious Roland Garros runner-up.
After surviving a five-setter of his own against Tommy Paul, he buzzsawed through 2019 semifinalist Matteo Berrettini and played some of the best hard-court tennis of his career to knock out Karen Khachanov to reach his second major final of the season—as many as the seven other men to qualify for last year’s ATP Finals combined.
The men’s final will likely play under the roof, which could slow down conditions just enough for Ruud to get on top of the Alcaraz game, but will it make the difference over five sets?