WATCH: After struggling to replicate his Roland Garros form on grass, Ruud first rebounded this summer with a semifinal finish at the Omnium Banque National in Montréal.

NEW YORK—It was a four-set match that came down to a single rally. Granted, the rally in question came on set point for Casper Ruud in the first-set tiebreaker, and it was one Karen Khachanov managed to keep going for an absurd 55 shots.

Having missed out two set points seconds earlier, Ruud drew from some combination of his experience, high-margin game, and unassailable work ethic to force the error from Khachanov and (eventually) edge into his second Grand Slam final, 7-6 (5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in just under three hours.

"After Roland Garros, I was extremely happy," he said on-court to James Blake, "but also humble enough to think that that could be my only Grand Slam final of my career. They don't come easy, but here I am again, a couple months later. It feels beyond words to describe."

Ruud’s longtime love affair with clay culminated with a runner-up finish at Roland Garros, and the No. 5 seed will aim to go one better in Flushing Meadows—not only to capture a maiden major victory but also to assure himself the No. 1 ranking, which hangs in the balance until the second semifinal between Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe is decided.

If Alcaraz ends Tiafoe’s fairytale in New York, he and Ruud will face off for the top spot on the ATP rankings on Sunday; if Tiafoe wins, Ruud is assured of his accession.

But first, the steady Norwegian had to outlast Khachanov, who was in his first semifinal and fresh off a five-set defeat of pre-tournament favorite Nick Kyrgios.


Ruud improved to 2-0 against Khachanov and will now await the second semifinal to see if he's outright earned the ATP No. 1 ranking.

Ruud improved to 2-0 against Khachanov and will now await the second semifinal to see if he's outright earned the ATP No. 1 ranking.

Rafael Nadal’s fourth-round exit guaranteed it would the third Slam in five years entirely up for grabs among the non-Big 3 set, and the nerves were evident from the outset on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Playing for the first time since the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where Ruud was victorious to begin his initial surge up the ATP rankings, the pair exchanged breaks in the opening set as both played decidedly tentative tennis in front of a non-plussed stadium crowd.

Though Ruud raced ahead in the ensuing Sudden Death, Khachanov kept things close, putting down a pair of big serves to narrow the deficit from 6-3 to 6-5.

It was then that The Point™ was played: both mixed body blows from the baseline with a couple backhand slices, Khachanov eager to break down Ruud’s weaker wing and prolong the tiebreaker.

"I think we both just refused to do a mistake knowing how important that point is," Ruud said in press. "That's fun with tennis because some of the best rallies of all time, longer rallies of all times, often come in important points because we both realize how important it is. You don't want to do a mistake.

"Towards the end the pulse was getting very high and the legs were almost shaking at a point. I was able to at one point there where I just ripped the backhand down the line and went for it sort of. Could stretch my arms in the air and win the first set!"

In a match-up of heavy forehands, Ruud proved better and blending power and control and displayed superior stamina, lifting a shy hand to the sky after forcing Khachanov into the net.

"My thoughts were actually that I'm in the game," Khachanov said, feeling optimistic. "I felt pumped in a way that we had this long rally, we were moving both. I felt like, Okay, it's a painful one to lose a set with this point. On the other side I felt like, Okay, now we're moving a lot, let's keep on going.

"Actually a few games after showed me it was not that good, the long rally!"

The second set was only an extension of that effort as Ruud struck an impressive 12 winners to only 2 unforced errors, twice breaking the No. 27 seed’s serve to move within a set of the final.


The No. 5 seed was in full flight by the fourth set, playing his best tennis to surge into Sunday's final.

The No. 5 seed was in full flight by the fourth set, playing his best tennis to surge into Sunday's final.

Ruud has ironically been his most vulnerable at this stage of matches this tournament: he endured a third-set hiccup against Corentin Moutet and nearly let 2019 semifinalist Matteo Berrettini back into the match before stabilizing in time to book the Khachanov meeting.

A former world No. 8, Khachanov had all the makings of a star when he won his first Masters 1000 title at Paris-Bercy in 2018, but it took the Olympic silver medalist a break from action due to Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players to restore his good form and fortune, helping him outhit Kyrgios and secure a late break on Ruud to force a fourth.

Self-deprecating and, at times, long-winded, Ruud has never considered himself a “flashy” player the way one might expect from Alcaraz, Kyrgios, or even Khachanov with his brutal forehand wing—where some move in on second-serve returns, he leans back.

But with father and coach Christian cheering him on, the 23-year-old began the third game of the fourth set with a deft forehand volley and nearly topped The Point™ with an even more audacious angle winner as he grew with confidence.

He continued to impress with his inside-in forehand, opening up the court to earn a second break and saved his very best for match point, shocking Khachanov with a forehand dropper to clinch the contest.

Sunday's final could be a rematch of the Miami Open final, where Alcaraz won his first Masters 1000 title over an in-form Ruud, or a first meeting with Tiafoe, who has never been past the quarterfinals of a major tournament before this week.