Carlos Alcaraz defeated Casper Ruud in the US Open final. The win makes Alacaraz the youngest No. 1 in ATP rankings history.
[Previous story, published at 6:47 a.m. ET]
“It’s the final of a Grand Slam where I’m fighting for world No. 1 – something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid,” Alcaraz told reporters after beating Frances Tiafoe in the last four.
The defeat of Ruud and Alcaraz would become the youngest No. 1 in ATP rankings history – an accolade currently owned by Lleyton Hewitt, who reached the top spot in 2001 at the age of 20.
The Spaniard wowed crowds this week with his speed, athleticism and incredible shooting skills, and the win could mark the first of many Grand Slam titles throughout his career.
At least, that’s what Tiafoe predicted when he paid tribute to Alcaraz after their semifinals, calling his opponent “a damn good player” and “a damn good person”.
Alcaraz, a clay-court specialist who has drawn comparisons to compatriot and 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, is only the second teenager in the Open Era to reach the final of the US Open after Pete Sampras. Regardless of Sunday’s result, his future looks bright.
“Right now you can see that all the hard work I put in every day is paying off,” Alcaraz told reporters in the early hours of Saturday.
Ruud, on the other hand, will be chasing his own story in the final and have a chance to become the first Norwegian to win a Grand Slam title.
He has spent less time on the pitch compared to Alcaraz at this year’s tournament, surviving just one five-setter – against Tommy Paul in the third round.
It’s been a breakthrough year for Ruud when it comes to the Grand Slams as the 23-year-old never advanced past the fourth round ahead of this year’s French Open.
“When you succeed or achieve or experience success in the Grand Slams, it kind of affects the way you think,” he told reporters on Friday. “Knowing I can level up does something to your confidence.”
Ruud and Alcaraz have met twice before, with the latter winning both, most recently in the final of this year’s Miami Open.
“We’re playing for the tournament and also for world no. 1,” said Ruud. “Of course there will be nerves and we will both feel it.”
Any nervousness is understandable: For the third time in a row, a first-time Grand Slam champion in men’s singles will be crowned at the US Open.