Carlos Alcaraz takes early lead against Casper Ruud in US Open final | TBEN | Tennis

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Carlos Alcaraz won the first set 6-4 against Casper Ruud in the US Open final on Sunday. In a historic winner-takes-all showdown, the victor will capture his first Grand Slam trophy and become the 28th player to secure the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP ranking.

As the world watched, the third-placed Spaniard quickly found his range at the Arthur Ashe stadium, hitting with explosive power and demonstrating impressive agility to move forward after 50 minutes in New York.

The 19-year-old aims to become the youngest Grand Slam champion since his compatriot Rafael Nadal, 19, took the trophy at Roland Garros in 2005 and the youngest US Open title list since Pete Sampras, 19, in 1990.

If the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion can beat the Norwegian and take his 51st win of the season, he will also become the youngest player and fourth Spaniard to rise to the No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP ranking history (since 1973). Spaniards Juan Carlos Ferrero – the current coach of Alcaraz – Carlos Moya and Nadal have all risen to the top position before.

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In a lively first set, both appeared to attack the second serve and stepped inside the baseline on return to earn the first blow in the brutal baseline exchanges. Alcaraz and Ruud fended off two breakpoints in their opening service games before the Spaniard made his move to break the 2-1 when Ruud hit a forehand wide. The third seed, who hit 13 winners in the set, consistently ran around the baseline to turn defense into offense, while effectively moving forward to close points at the net.

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Alcaraz has shown an abundance of quality and grit to move through the field at Flushing Meadows. In a dramatic run on the hard court major, he won nighttime five-set thrillers against Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe to advance to his first major final, saving one match point against Italy’s Sinner.

Ruud arrived in Flushing Meadows as the number 7 in the world after suffering a shocking second-round exit against #NextGenATP American Ben Shelton in Cincinnati. However, if the 23-year-old beats Alcaraz to take his 45th win of the year, he will leave the hard court major in first place and take the biggest jump to No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP rankings. He also becomes the first Norwegian to climb to the top position.

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Ruud, who had never made it past the third round in four previous appearances at Flushing Meadows, has captured nine tour-level titles, including three this season. Alcaraz has won four tour-level trophies in 2022, including two ATP Masters 1000 crowns. The third seed, who qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals earlier this week, leads Ruud 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, having recently defeated the Norwegian in the Miami final in April.