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Nadal won’t be world No 1, Ruud and Alcaraz in a one-match shoot-out for top spot

Only Carlos Alcaraz can deny him top spot – and he must win the title to do it

Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud, Miami 2022 Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud, Miami 2022 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Casper Ruud is in very real contention to be the first ever Norwegian tennis player to be world No 1 after he beat Karen Khachanov on Friday to reach the final of the US Open.

The 23-year-old, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open earlier this summer, will overtake the Spaniard in the rankings when the list is updated on Monday and he is guaranteed to finish the US Open as at least the world No 2.

Carlos Alcaraz is now the only man who can deny him top spot. The Spaniard outlasted Frances Tiafoe in five sets in the second semi-final later on Friday, so the stage is set for a winner-take-all showdown in Sunday’s title match. Whoever wins will not only capture his first Grand Slam title but will also become No 1 in the world.

Daniil Medvedev, who began the US Open as the world No 1, will fall to No 4 on Monday.

Ruud was asked in his post-match press conference if he would like to clinch No 1 on Friday night (which would have been the case if Alcaraz had lost to Tiafoe) or fight for it with Alcaraz on Sunday.

“I think what’s most fair is if we both reach the final and whoever wins the final reaches the world No 1,” he answered. “That would be I think the ideal situation. (But) if I go to bed as No 1, I will sleep pretty damn well I guess.

“I have been playing tennis since before I have memory because of my father played with me for fun when I was young. Tennis has always been big part of my life. When I saw Rafa (and) Roger on TV when I was young, I said that I want to be on TV someday myself. I think that just stuck with me all my life — that someday I would like to try to become world No. 1 and win Grand Slams.”

Sunday could be that day.

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