Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz will play the match of their lives on Sunday night, the prize set to be not only the US Open title, but also the World Number 1 spot in the ATP Rankings.
Ruud has had the more dominant road to the finals between the two, never being pushed to the brink aside from his third round win against Paul (even then, Ruud won the fifth set 6-0). The Norwegian ace has looked really good against Berrettini and Khachanov in his last two outings, and this final caps up what has been an extraordinary season for him so far.
Alcaraz on the other hand stole the show and the plaudits with his heroics and brilliant shotmaking. He started the US Open with three comfortable wins, but faced huge challenges in his next three matches against Cilic, Sinner and Tiafoe, needing three (!!!) five-set thrillers to advance for his first ever Grand Slam final.
Alcaraz leads the H2H 2-0 (1-0 on hard courts) and he hasn’t lost a set against Ruud so far. On the other hand, the Norwegian did manage to win an exhibition a few months ago on the grass courts in Hurlingham.
I think this might be Ruud’s best ever chance to capture a Grand Slam, aside from maybe the post-Nadal era at Roland Garros. It seems like a favorable moment to be facing Alcaraz.
The Spaniard is clearly the more talented player, but I feel he is a bit overhyped right now due to his tantalizing potential, his showmanship and his spectacular shot making. I suspect this final might come just a second too soon for him. Is he quite ready and prepared to become the youngest World Number 1 ever? Can he be consistent for five sets – because he did have his ups and downs in this tournament!? But, most of all, how much does he have left physically?
The Spaniard might be young and fit, but playing THREE grueling 5 set matches in a row will have definitely taken its toll. He spent almost 14 hours on the court over the last three rounds. His quarterfinal against Sinner was one of the most exhausting matches you will see, and Tiafoe gave him another marathon in the semis. That’s madness, and now comes Ruud, a player who knows how to extend rallies and make you work. The more I think about it, the more difficult this final looks for Alcaraz.
I believe Ruud can take advantage of his superior experience (always SO important on this stage), having already played a Grand Slam final this year, and also capitalize on his opponent’s fatigue. If the match goes the distance, you have to feel the Norwegian will have the edge. Not to mention that it’s not like Ruud is some chump who needs all these supplementary help to stay on the court with Alcaraz. Not at all, in fact, one could well argue that overall he played better tennis than the Spaniard over these past two weeks. Alcaraz maybe had higher highs, but nobody talks about the fact that he was outplayed in many moments during his previous three matches.
This looks to me like a much closer match than the odds suggest. Can Alcaraz come out energized and play the best match of his career, consistently producing at his highest level for three or four sets? That’s possible, in which case he would win this final, but I think it’s unlikely. As always in betting, it’s about evaluating risk vs. reward, and I like the value on this bet. Back Ruud to spring the upset here. Prediction: Casper Ruud – Carlos Alcaraz 7-6 2-6 6-4 3-6 6-4.