Carlos Alcaraz of Spain beat Casper Ruud of Norway 6-4 2-6 7-6 6-3 to win the US Open title in New York on Sunday after a match lasting for three hours and 20 minutes. The 19-year-old Alcaraz became the youngest US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990 as well as the youngest world #1 in ATP history. But how did Alcaraz get the better of the Norwegian
Carlos Alcaraz vs Casper Ruud: 3 Keys To The Match
#1. Alcaraz kept pounding Ruud’s backhand from the beginning:
Alcaraz kept putting pressure on Ruud’s comparatively vulnerable backhand wing from the beginning. The Spaniard kept playing his crosscourt backhand and inside-out forehand to Ruud’s backhand to put the Norwegian under pressure. He managed to get the decisive break and win the first set with the above tactic.
However, from the second set onwards, Ruud started playing the backhand slice more often to take the pace off the ball. Alcaraz took a little to adjust to that, with Ruud winning the second set at a canter, but started venturing into the net more often to finish points with volleys.
#2. Alcaraz rushed the net more often:
As expected, there was the regular dose of drop shots from Alcaraz, which kept dragging Ruud into the net. The Spaniard then tried to play lobs over the Norwegian’s head, but the latter responded with superb overhead smashes at times. Still, whilst Ruud is not exactly a novice at the net, he is far more comfortable at the back of the court.
As the match progressed, Ruud began to play the drop shot more frequently himself to drag his opponent into the net. However, Alcaraz’s better net game ensured that he often finished points with either good punched or drop volleys. Alcaraz’s ability at the net was also evident in the crucial moments, including when he was able to rely on rushing the net to save a set point in the third.
#3. Alcaraz’s more aggressive approach paid off:
Alcaraz is a decidedly more aggressive player than Ruud and his attacking approach made a difference in the end. The Spaniard’s first serve was noticeably more effective than the Norwegian’s, with Alcaraz hitting 14 aces and winning 74% of the points on his first serve. By way of comparison, Ruud hit just four aces though he did win a respectable 66% of the points behind his first serve.
Alcaraz struggled with his second serve and could only win 51% of the points on his second serve against Ruud’s 64%. Still, Alcaraz possessed more powerful groundstrokes and finished the match with 55 winners against Ruud’s 37. Ruud committed less unforced errors – 29 against Alcaraz’s 41 – but it was not enough to win him the match with Alcaraz’s ability to seize control of the baseline rallies ultimately decisive.
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