Rafael Nadal’s Tuesday began with a chance to redeem his opening round-robin loss in Turin. It ended with him being the first player eliminated at the ATP Finals, a scenario that officially confirmed Carlos Alcaraz will become the youngest year-end No. 1 in ATP history.

The man Alcaraz toppled in the US Open final, Casper Ruud, was responsible for putting a bow on the 19-year-old’s grand achievement. In a first-time meeting, Ruud overcame Taylor Fritz, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6), firing 14 aces to cement his return to the semifinals after reaching that stage on his debut last year.

"It's one of my best serving matches, serve performances, in my career. Last year I also served quite well in this tournament," Ruud assessed afterwards in press.

"I'm going to go to bed tonight and sleep very well because I know I will play on Saturday no matter what happens in the next match. I can, of course, give my best, but play with my shoulders down, knowing I will still be able to play on Saturday. This is a great feeling."

Nadal earlier went down to Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-3, 6-4, to drop his fourth consecutive match, his longest skid since 2009.

"Just well done for Carlos in this case. Happy for him. Big achievement for him," Nadal said prior to Alcaraz's position being solidified. "Great news for our sport in Spain. Yeah, he deserved after a great season."

Ruud will play the second place finisher in the Red Group come Saturday, as he looks to go a step further than 2021.

Ruud will play the second place finisher in the Red Group come Saturday, as he looks to go a step further than 2021.


For Ruud, this week has been a pleasant change of pace. He entered the year-end championships on a 2-4 stretch, with his best win during that period coming against 76th-ranked Richard Gasquet at the Paris Masters. But he’s reset the table in doubling his 2022 Top 10 win count.

Ruud didn’t face a break point through his first three sets at the Pala Alpitour. But Fritz, who missed three break points early in the second set, broke the Norwegian to force a decider after Ruud’s forehand found the net to end an extended rally. The two battled down to the wire to arrive at a decisive tiebreak, where Fritz erased a 2-5 deficit and a match point to level for 6-6. Ruud fought off the American's stand to ultimately secure his 50th victory of the year.

"He was definitely taking more risk on his second serve, which I fell like that was part of his game plan," said Fritz. "He didn't want me to be stepping in and attacking a second serve, so he probably accepted he was going to maybe double-fault a bit more than normal."

The winner between Auger-Aliassime and Fritz will join Green Group winner Ruud in the final four.

Alcaraz, whose withdrawal permitted Fritz to gain entry as the next highest finisher in the race to Turin, is the 18th player in ATP history to claim the year-end No. 1 ranking. The only other player since 2004 outside of the Big Three’s Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to pull off the coveted milestone is Andy Murray, who claimed a winner-take-all championship clash at the 2016 ATP Finals over Djokovic.