a Ruud-Alcaraz final for a first crown and the number 1 spot
If it has happened that the quest for a first Grand Slam title is coupled with that of accession to the throne of the ATP, this is the first time that this scenario concerns the two finalists. Which gives a hell of a pace to this unprecedented final of the US Open between Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud.
“I think the fairest thing would be for both of us to reach the last step and whoever wins becomes world number 1,” Ruud said after his half victory against Russian Karen Khachanov, while agreeing, smiling at the lips: “if I go to bed as N.1, I will sleep damn well”.
Alcaraz, youngest N.1 in history?
Alcaraz, who can become the youngest N.1 in history, deprived him of this pleasure, but he still had to spend mad energy during 4:19 of a big fight to overcome the American Frances Tiafoe , less than two days after spending 5:15 on the same central Arthur-Ashe to win an epic showdown against the Italian Jannik Sinner.
Including his round of 16 victory over Croatian Marin Cilic, the Murcia prodigy has spent 15 sets and 1:28 p.m. on the courts in his last three matches, compared to 8:56 a.m. for Ruud, who had a much quieter run.
But more than fatigue, it was the completely new context for him of a major final that Alcaraz highlighted. “Casper has already played a final at Roland-Garros, it will be my first. I will leave everything on the court but I will have to control my nerves, « he said before assuring that he was » not afraid of this moment « . « I’ve prepared myself mentally and physically to fight for big things like this. »
In fact, the Norwegian will have experience for him, certainly fresh at this stage, three months after his defeat on Parisian clay against Rafael Nadal. He also agreed with his future opponent: “Of course, there will be nervousness and we will both feel it”.
But Alcaraz has the psychological advantage over Ruud because he beat him in their first two meetings, the last time in early April in the final on Miami cement.
Beginning of a new era?
A success that made him the youngest winner in the history of a Masters 1000 and added to those of Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona and Madrid this year. Ample confirmation of a talent revealed to the general public at the US Open last year (quarter-final).
A clay-court specialist, on which he has won eight of his nine titles, including three in 2022 in Buenos Aires, Geneva and Gstaad, Ruud is also having the best season of his career.
So this final may not be the one many expected at Flushing Meadows between Daniil Medvedev, future ex-world No.1 and defending champion, and Rafael Nadal. But it could mark, in the absence of Novak Djokovic (not vaccinated), the beginning of a new era as the retirements of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the Serb approach.
In view of the performances in this US Open of the young generation of Alcaraz, Ruud, Sinner and Tiafoe, not to mention the rebirth of Australian Nick Kyrgios, men’s tennis should have a bright future.