Casper Ruud books place in US Open final by battling past Karen Khachanov
The US Open men’s final has its competitors, after two simply incredible semi-finals.
Carlos Alcaraz will face Casper Ruud, with the winner to earn a $2.6m USD winner’s prize, a maiden grand slam title, and the world number one ranking.
The 19-year-old Spaniard won 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 over Frances Tiafoe to turn into the most youthful men’s Huge homerun finalist since Rafael Nadal caught the first of his 22 Rams at the 2005 French Open. He could become the youngest ever world number one in the rankings era (since 1973).
Tiafoe saved a match point in the fourth set and proceeded to win the tiebreak – taking his tiebreak record to 8-0 this competition, an untouched record. But Alcaraz showed incredible fight and skill in the final set to book a place in his first grand slam final after more than four hours on the court – and with his third five-set match in a row.
Alcaraz said: “We are in a semi-final of a grand slam. We have to give everything we have inside, we have to fight until the last war. It doesn’t matter if we’re fighting for five hours, or six hours, it doesn’t matter. We have to give everything on the court. Frances gave everything on the court, so it’s amazing.”
About the chance of the world number one positioning as well as a huge home run title, he said: “It’s astonishing to have the option to battle for enormous things. First time in the last of a huge home run. I can see the number one in the world, but at the same time, it’s so far away. I have one more to go but against a player who plays unbelievably… this is my first time. I’m going to give everything I have.”
23-year-old Ruud from Norway defeated Russian Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in his semi-final.
It will be world number seven Ruud’s second Grand Slam final of the season after finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open in June.
“This match today was another great match from my side. I think we were both a bit nervous in the beginning, some breaks back and forth,” said Ruud who had never got past the third round in New York before this year.
“You have to take into account that this match was probably the biggest match for both of our careers and of course, there will always be some nerves.”
Tiafoe, the world number 26, was bidding to become the first American Grand Slam men’s finalist since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009.
The child of foreigners from Sierra Leone, Tiafoe would likewise have turned into the main African-American boss in New York since Arthur Ashe in 1968.
But having beaten three top-20 players to reach the semi-final, his dream ended in tears after his serve went awry in the final set.
Tiafoe fought back tears as he said: “I gave everything I had. Too good from Carlos tonight. I gave everything I had, I gave everything I had for the last two weeks.
“Honestly I came here wanting to win us open. I feel like I let you guys down.
“This one really hurts, this one really really hurts.
“Too good from Carlos, you’re going to win a lot of grand slams. You’re a hell of a player, hell of a person. I’m happy I got to share the court with you on such a big stage.
“I’m gonna come back and I will win this thing one day. I’m sorry guys.”
Ruud and Khachanov, who took out Scratch Kyrgios in a five-set quarter-last, traded a twofold break each in a sketchy opening set.
However, it ended with a lung-busting flourish when Ruud came out on top in a 55-shot rally to convert a third set point in the tie-break.
The Norwegian raced to a double break in the third and fifth games of the second set, wrapping it up in just 33 minutes when Khachanov fired a forehand long.
Olympic silver medallist Khachanov hit back, moving to two set points in the 12th game of the third set, cutting the match deficit when Ruud buried a lazy forehand in the net.
It was a brief setback, however, for Ruud who broke in the fourth set to lead 2-1, thanks to a pinpoint forehand pass, and backed it up with another break for 4-1.
The Norwegian moved to three match focuses and fixed triumph kindness of a pleasantly planned drop shot with Khachanov established at the rear of the court.
“After Roland Garros, I was extremely happy but at the same time humble enough to think that could be my only final in a Grand Slam in my career,” said Ruud.
“They don’t come easy. So here I am a couple of months later – it feels beyond words to describe.”
Khachanov described the 55-shot rally which decided the opening set as “crazy”.
“I have never played a point like that before but I felt pumped and in the game,” said the 26-year-old.
“It was an excruciating method for losing a set. I felt alright after it however a couple of games later … perhaps not!”