Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud have played the final of the US Open, a final that was truly wonderful with beautiful and scintillating shot making and a final that was at the highest levels of sportsmanship. Tennis is truly fortunate to have these two young men as ambassadors.
In front of a sold out crowd that included so many celebrities from the world of entertainment, the arts and sport, at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Alcaraz created history. In his very first major final he defeated Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-3 in three hours 20 minutes.
The 19-year-old Spaniard was only the second teenager to reach the US Open final, the other being legendary Pete Sampras in 1990 and, like Pete 32 years ago, Carlos was holding the silver cup. In doing so he has become the first teenager and the youngest man to reach the world No.1 ranking displacing Lleyton Hewitt with that distinction from 21 years ago. Ruud meanwhile has moved to a career high of two in the world.
“It has been a great run here in US Open,” Alcaraz, the new champion said. “Obviously is great to have the trophy here, but I would say, I mean, I overcome myself a little bit. I mean, yeah, I played a great matches, high intensity, during the two weeks that I've never done before.
“I just can say that I'm really happy to move on to be No. 1 of the world, still growing. I'm so, so happy. Right now I'm enjoying the moment. I'm enjoying have the trophy in my hands. But, of course, I'm hungry for more. I want to be in the top for many, many weeks. Hope many years. I'm going to work hard again after this week, this amazing two weeks. I'm going to fight to have more of this.”
Alcaraz broke serve in the third game of the first set and served out the set when Ruud netted a backhand but the Norwegian. Ruud bounced back straightaway and levelled the final when she smashed away a feeble lob. It seemed like Alcaraz was starting to be sapped of energy – he came into the final having won three five set matches in a row and some of his initial firepower was not quite there.
The level of tennis however remained brilliant and time and again the crowd would stand in unison to applaud these two men.
In the third Alcaraz led 2-0 but Ruud struck right back and the more he challenger the Spaniard the more it seemed as Alcaraz was having to work harder. At 6-5 Ruud has two set points on the Alcaraz serve and he was not able to convert either one. Had he done so that might have had a huge affect on Alcaraz physically and mentally.
Still, the points from both of them continued to amaze.
When Alcaraz levelled the set at 6-6 he got a second wind. He was all over the tiebreak, he played it brilliantly dropping only one point. The pressure had swung on to Ruud’s racquet.
“I think it was an exciting match to play and be a part of,” Ruud said. “It was many fun rallies and fun shots. Of course, disappointing in the end that it didn't go my way. But that's how it goes. Carlos stepped up when he really needed to. Especially in the third set, it was close to go in my favour. I had some set points and couldn't take care of them. He just played too good on those points. We've seen it many times before, he steps up when he needs to. When it's close, he pulls out great shots.
“All credit to him. At the same time, I'm proud of the match and the two weeks. I gave it all. I left it all out on the court. Played some phenomenal tennis throughout the two weeks, probably my best tennis ever on this surface. So I'm very happy in the end. We'll hopefully get another chance at a slam in the future.”
Alcaraz broke for 4-2, Casper hung on for 3-5 before Alcaraz closed out the final a game later. He collapsed to the court and it looked like he was making snow angles as he sobbed tears of happiness and disbelief with what he had achieved.
“It's crazy for me. I've never thought that I was going to achieve something like that at 19 years old. So everything is came so fast,” Alcaraz said. “For me it's unbelievable. It's something I dream since I was a kid, since I start playing tennis. Of course, lift this trophy today is amazing for me.”
The doubles title was won by Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury for the second year in a row, they defeated Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 7-6, 7-5.