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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Alzaraz, Ruud enter US Open final, move closer to World No. 1

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New York: Carlos Alcaraz of Spain reached his first Grand Slam final with a five-set win over American Frances Tiafoe in the US Open semifinals.

Spanish teenager guaranteed there will be a winner-takes-all US Open final for the season’s final Grand Slam trophy and the No. 1 ATP Ranking.

The third seed Spaniard battled past home favourite Frances Tiafoe 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 after four hours and 19 minutes on Friday evening.

Alcaraz, 19, is the second teen to make the US Open final in the Open Era, joining legendary American Pete Sampras.

Alcaraz, who has won three consecutive five-setters lasting a combined 13 hours and 28 minutes, will face Norwegian Casper Ruud for the title on Sunday. The winner will claim his first Slam crown as well as World No. 1.

“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things. First time in the final of a Grand Slam. I can see the No. 1 in the world, but at the same time it’s so far away,” Alcaraz said. “I have one more to go against a player who is unbelievable. He deserves to play a final. He played the final of a Grand Slam in Roland Garros. This is my first time.

Casper Ruud of Norway moved past Karen Khachanov 7-6(5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 on Friday to reach his second Grand Slam final, further boosting his chances of rising to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

Should the fifth seed Norwegian triumph in New York, he will become the first Norwegian to rise to World No. 1 on Monday.

“I played phenomenal in the second and Karen stepped up in the third. It was back and forth like every five-setter is, but I am just so happy. After Roland Garros I was extremely happy but of course humble enough to think that could be my only final at a Grand Slam in my career. It doesn’t come easy, but here I am back again a couple [of] months later,” Ruud said in his on-court interview.

The Spanish and Norwegian stars have powered through that opening by reaching Sunday’s men’s singles final. That high-stakes match will not only crown a first-time Grand Slam champion, but also a new world No. 1.

Both Alcaraz and Ruud are one win away from a stunning and historic debut atop the ATP rankings. Alcaraz, 19, would become the first teenager to claim the top spot in the history of the rankings. Ruud, 23, would become the first Norwegian to reach the pinnacle of men’s tennis.

Moreover, Ruud will qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals if he wins the title on Sunday. The Norwegian, who reached the semifinals at the end-of-year event in 2021, would become the third singles player to qualify, joining Rafael Nadal and Alcaraz.

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