On a historic night at the US Open, Carlos Alcaraz defeated Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-3 to clinch his first Grand Slam trophy and secure the first place in the Pepperstone ATP rankings.
As the world watched in a winner-takes-all final, the Spaniard struck with explosive power and demonstrated impressive touch around the net, winning 34/45 (76%) on clean to outlast the Norwegian at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 19-year-old opened his shoulders, played aggressively and handled the pressure in the fourth set to claim his 51st tour-level victory of the season after three hours and 20 minutes.
An emotional Alcaraz fell to the ground after his historic victory as he received roars of support from the New York crowd. He then climbed up to his dressing room to hug his team, including coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a child. To be world No. 1, to be a Grand Slam champion, it’s something I’ve worked very, very hard [for]”, said Alcaraz during the trophy ceremony. “It’s difficult to speak at the moment, I have a lot of emotions. It’s something I tried to achieve. All the hard work I put in with my team and my family. I’m only 19, all the hard decisions were made with my parents and my team as well. It’s something that’s really special to me.”
Alcaraz won three straight matches in five sets to reach their first Grand Slam final, spending 20 hours and 19 minutes on the court in six matches en route to the final. However, he showed few signs of fatigue to defeat Ruud.
“There is no time to be tired in the last rounds of a Grand Slam… You have to be ready and give everything you have inside. It’s something I work for very hard,” Alcaraz said.
Juan Carlos Ferrero.” style=”width: 100%;” />
Photo credit: Getty Images
The 19-year-old became the youngest Grand Slam champion since compatriot Rafael Nadal, 19, lifted the trophy at Roland Garros in 2005, while he is the youngest US Open titlist since Pete Sampras, 19, in 1990.
— US Tennis Open (@usopen) September 11, 2022
The winner of the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals arrived at Flushing Meadows as the world No. 4. the Pepperstone ATP ranking (since 1973).
Alcaraz also equaled the biggest jump to No.1 as he is the fourth Spaniard to climb to the top, joining coach Ferrero, Carlos Moya and Nadal.
Pepperstone’s ATP Rankings Youngest World No. 1s
In a spirited first set, the two looked to attack second serves, entering the baseline on the return to earn the opening shot in brutal exchanges from the baseline. Alcaraz and Ruud fended off two break points in their opening service games before the Spaniard broke for 2-1 when Ruud hit a forehand wide. The third seed, who hit 13 winners in the set, constantly ran around the baseline to turn defense into attack, while moving forward efficiently to close points at the net.
Ruud refused to leave early in the second set and started hurting Alcaraz more with his penetrating groundstrokes. The fifth seed crucially saved a break point at 2-2, before smashing Alcaraz in the following game to gain a foothold and believe. Ruud began to assert himself in exchanges on all courts, while reducing his errors, committing only two unforced errors in the set to equalise.
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Alcaraz flew off the blocks early in the third set to take a 2-0 lead. However, he started to show signs of fatigue, affecting his footwork and decision-making, which allowed Ruud to come back into the set. The Norwegian used his backhand kick to drop the ball at Alcaraz’s feet when the Spaniard came forward and also caused damage to the wing of the forehand, blasting the ball across the pitch and finishing points at the net to close out the rallies on any pitch that had the crowds. on their feet.
A bloated Alcaraz stayed with Ruud, however. He saved two set points on serve at 5/6 with aggressive net play, before handling the pressure in the third set tie-break to regain the lead. The Spaniard, who won 79% (31/39) of the clean score in the first three sets, threw his arms in the air as he returned to his chair.
Alcaraz then opened his shoulders and got back to basics in the fourth set to finish the job. He fired Ruud from corner to corner with his flat groundstrokes and stayed calm on serve to earn his historic victory.
Lift the trophy, @carlosalcaraz! 🏆
Let the confetti fly 🎉 pic.twitter.com/F2cfoFX0lO
— US Tennis Open (@usopen) September 12, 2022
In a dramatic run to the hard-court major, Alcaraz exhibited an abundance of quality and courage to move around the court. He edged Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe in late-night five-set thrillers to advance to his first Grand Slam final, saving match point against Italy’s Sinner.
The Spaniard spent 23 hours and 39 minutes on court during the fortnight, surpassing Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon in 2018 for the most time played in a single recorded Grand Slam tournament (since 1999).
However, he didn’t let go against Ruud as the game went on, a sign of the physical progress he has made. The Spaniard hit 55 winners and broke three times to improve to 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, having also beaten the 23-year-old in the Miami final in April.
Ruud, who was in his second major final after losing to Nadal at Roland Garros in June, was also aiming to become the 28th player and the first Norwegian to advance to No. 1. The fifth seed, who picked up his 44th win level with the turn of the season when he beat Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals, was unable to cope with Alcaraz’s aggressive net play and relentless pressure during crucial moments.
A final worthy of the name between the new 1 and 2 world players. pic.twitter.com/NO2TwwOmVE
— US Tennis Open (@usopen) September 11, 2022
However, the nine-time tour-level title slate is in second place on the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings after its run in New York. Earlier this season, Ruud won the ATP 250 trophies on clay in Buenos Aires, Geneva and Gstaad. The 23-year-old is currently third in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin as he aims to qualify for the prestigious year-end event for a second consecutive year. Ruud qualified for the semi-finals on his tournament debut last November.
“Things went so well. Today was a special night,” Ruud said at the awards ceremony. “Carlos and I knew what we were playing for and what was at stake. We will be world No. 2 and No. 1 tomorrow, I think that’s normal. Of course I’m disappointed not to be number 1, but number 2 isn’t bad either. I am satisfied with this number and I will continue to chase after my first Grand Slam title and my first ranking.
Alcaraz has now won five Tour-leading titles this season, including the ATP Masters 1000 trophies in Miami and Madrid. The 19-year-old, who reached the last eight on his New York debut 12 months ago, qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals following his quarter-final win over Sinner earlier this week. He was the second player to book his place in Turin after his compatriot Nadal.
Did you know?
Alcaraz is the first player since Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2019 to save a match point en route to a Grand Slam title, having saved one against Sinner. Serbian Djokovic saved two against Roger Federer in the 2019 Championships final.
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