Brilliant Alcaraz downs Ruud to win US Open, becomes world No 1

The 19-year-old is the first teenager to win a men’s Grand Slam title since Rafael Nadal in 2005

Carlos Alcaraz, US Open trophy 2022 Carlos Alcaraz, US Open trophy 2022 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz wrote his name in the history books on Sunday as he beat Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 to win the US Open.

The 19-year-old saved two set points in the third set and then held his nerve in the fourth to win his first Grand Slam title and secure the world No 1 ranking, falling onto his back in joy before running into the stands to greet his team, led by coach and former world No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.

“It’s been something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid,” said Alcaraz, who won 34 of 45 points at the net. “To be No 1 in the world and to be a champion of a Grand Slam is something I worked really hard for. It’s tough to talk right now, a lot of emotions.”

Alcaraz is the youngest man to win the title in New York since Pete Sampras in 1990 and the first teenager to win a men’s title since Rafael Nadal in 2005.

No 2 is not bad. I’ll keep trying to win a first Grand Slam title and to be world No 1.

Casper Ruud

Alcaraz had won three consecutive five-setters to reach the final and just like Stefan Edberg in 1992, he followed up and won the final in four sets.

Ruud played superbly himself and but for a poor tiebreak in the third set, he might have gone on to win his first slam title. As it is, the Norwegian, who also lost in the final at Roland-Garros earlier this summer, will still rise to a career-high No 2 in the rankings on Monday.

“I’m disappointed not to win and be No 1, of course,” Ruud said. “But No 2 is not bad. I’ll keep trying to win a first Grand Slam title and to be world No 1.”

Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud after the 2022 US Open final | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Alcaraz makes fast start

Having already spent 20 hours plus on court in the run-up to his first slam final, there were fears that Alcaraz might have nothing left against a fresher Ruud, who himself had impressed throughout the two weeks.

But the Spaniard showed no signs of fatigue early on. Having won both their previous meetings, he began confidently, breaking serve for 2-1 in the first set and holding the advantage throughout to move ahead.

Ruud hits back in style

Alcaraz was having great success at the net, moving in every time he saw Ruud chipping his returns. At 2-2 in the second set, he had a break point but Ruud saved it and then the match turned.

Alcaraz was becoming frustrated at not taking his chances and Ruud broke for 4-2. Crunching forehands, he saved a break-back point before breaking again to take the second set and level the match.

Missed chances cost Ruud in third set

Ruud had the momentum but immediately the match swung back to Alcaraz as he broke in the opening game of the third.

He might have earned a double break for 3-0 but Ruud saved a break point for 1-2 and then took advantage of sloppiness to break and level at 2-2.

Suddenly, the efforts of Alcaraz’s run to the final seemed to be a factor, his movement not quite as spectacular, his shot selection not where he would want it.

But the 19-year-old dug in and the pair began to play some outrageous points, both men looking to come forward and testing each other’s defence and movement. Ruud looked the fresher and had two set points at 6-5, but Alcaraz saved the first with a forehand volley and then two points later, a second with a clever serve and volley.

Ruud began the tiebreak with a good serve but then the wheels came off, the Norwegian shanking two backhands and suddenly making a host of errors as Alcaraz took it 7-1 to go ahead again.

Alcaraz holds his nerve to serve out for the title

The fourth set began with both men winning their serves comfortably, but at 3-2, Alcaraz stepped it up, crunching two backhands to give himself a chance at 15-30. Ruud levelled at 30-30 but a good lob from Alcaraz forced Ruud to miss a smash and on break point, the Norwegian sent a backhand long to give him a 4-2 lead.

Two loose points gave Ruud hope of a break back at 0-30 but Alcaraz hit his way out of trouble to hold for 5-2. The Norwegian did what he had to do, holding serve and asking Alcaraz the question but the Spaniard hit two aces and on his second match point, an unreturnable serve to clinch the biggest victory of his life.

He is only the eighth man to win a slam as a teenager in the Open era and he wins the title having saved a match point in beating Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals.

Alcaraz’s run at the US Open :

•Argentinian Sebastian Baez (7-5, 7-5, 2-0 ret.)
• Argentinian Federico Coria (6-2, 6-1, 7-5)
• American Jenson Brooksby (6-3, 6-3, 6-3)
• Croat Marin Čilić, the No 15 seed (6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3)
• Italian Sinner, the No 11 seed (6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-7, 7-5, 6-3)
• American Frances Tiafoe, the No 22 seed (6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-3).

Ruud’s run at the US Open :

•Kyle Edmund (6-3, 7-5, 6-2)
•Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven (6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4)
• American Tommy Paul, the No 29 seed (7-6 (3), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-0)
• French lucky loser Corentin Moutet (6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-2)
• Italian Matteo Berrettini, the No 13 seed (6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4))
• Russian Karen Khachanov, the No 27 seed (7-6 (5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2).

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