Three Keys to the US Open Men’s Final

Carlos Alcaraz in action at the US Open.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain will face Casper Ruud in the final of the US Open on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. Alcaraz beat Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. in the semifinal, while Ruud go the better of Karen Khachanov of Russia.
This is going to be first Grand Slam final for the 19-year-old Alcaraz, while Ruud, four years his senior, reached the final of the French Open earlier this year. Irrespective of whoever wins in the final, we are going to get a new Grand Slam winner.

On that note, we will take a look at three key things that might determine the fate of the final:

Carlos Alcaraz vs Casper Ruud: Keys to the US Open Final

#1 Alcaraz putting pressure on Ruud’s backhand:

It is a well-known fact that Ruud has a strong forehand, but his backhand is not as powerful. Alcaraz is going to take advantage of that by pounding the Norwegian’s backhand and thereby not allowing the latter to dictate terms with his forehand.
Hence, one can expect Alcaraz to hit a lot of crosscourt backhands and inside-out forehands to Ruud’s backhand wing. The Spaniard can then hit outright winners to the open court after having pushed the Norwegian to his backhand corner. One might recall the Miami Open final in this context, when Alcaraz kept serving to Ruud’s backhand repeatedly on the ad court to win points.

#2 Alcaraz dragging Ruud into the net:

Alcaraz is renowned for his ability to play quality drop shots. He will definitely try to drag Ruud into the net playing drop shots and then finish points by playing lobs, just like in the quarterfinal against Jannik Sinner.
Now, Ruud is a decent mover, but will have to brace himself for surging forward repeatedly to get hold of the Spaniard’s drop shots. How he deals with Alcaraz’s drop shots might go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the final. However, Alcaraz’s net-skills are superior and he should hold the edge in the exchanges in the net.

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#3 Ruud making Alcaraz move from side to side:

Ruud’s only chance of getting the better of his opponent in the baseline exchanges is if he manages to move Alcaraz from side to side with his forehand primarily. That would mean that the Spaniard would not be able to play his groundstrokes with customary power.

If Ruud is unable to make Alcaraz move laterally along the baseline, he will find it very difficult to overpower the Spaniard with his groundstrokes. However, Alcaraz’s great movement and supreme fitness will mean that he remains the favorite should the match go into a fifth set. He has gone through the grind already against Sinner and Tiafoe there is no reason why he cannot repeat the act against Ruud. Still, one thing that might work in Ruud’s favor is that he will be relatively fresh for the final compared to Alcaraz, who has endured two back-to-back five-set matches.

Main Photo from Getty.