Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud are the last two survivors of this year’s US Open, who will face each other today to decide the fate of the title. The Norwegian already has experience of such clashes, having reached the final match at Roland Garros earlier in the year, while it will be the 19-year-old’s debut at such a Grand Slam stage. However, this does not reduce the chances of the youngster, who enters as a favorite in today’s match, starting at 23:00 Bulgarian time, and until then, let’s think about what we could expect from the two finalists.
What are Alcaraz’s strengths and how could he win?
So far, the teenager has won both of his previous matches with the Scandinavian, not dropping a single set in them. Their final from the Masters in Miami, when the Spaniard won 7:5 6:4, is especially suitable for comparison, because we saw what a battle between them would look like on hard courts, and only about half a year has passed since then. Then the Roland Garros runner-up was completely equal in middle and long games, only the short points invariably went to Carlitos’ asset. The youngster had won an impressive 36 out of 41 points on his own serve when the exchanges did not exceed more than 3 shots.
This was mainly due to the reason that his opponent was extremely unconvincing on the return and usually only cut the ball, which gave Alcaraz the opportunity to attack immediately. The Norwegian met too far back, and this allowed the Iberian to make good use of his kick serve, through which he seriously harassed Ruud’s backhand and was subsequently given an easy opportunity to finish near the net, where he was uncompromising.
However, the Norwegian currently has a significantly improved return and backhand, so we are unlikely to see the same development. This time, I think the teenager should focus his pressure on the opponent’s strong stroke, namely the forehand. The Madrid champion has enough power not to worry about the Scandinavian’s subsequent response. Alcaraz will thus force Ruud to cover his forehand corner and put him in a very uncomfortable position when he decides to finish the point and change direction, as the world number seven’s backhand is particularly shaky when it is on the move.
This tactic will force Kasper to hit backhands regularly, which will be detrimental to him, given the offensive qualities of the 19-year-old, who can easily move to the net and finish off the lower-ranked player’s defense with ease. Another key asset for the Spaniard is his incredible ability to counter-attack. Ruud often pulls out to the forehand with the idea of hitting a forehand winner, only to find that he is opening up serious space in his own half, and Alcaraz has the qualities to reach his opponent’s aggressive forehand and direct the ball into the open part of the court.
How could Ruud counter?
The fifth seed is very reliant on his forehand and should be better in that component than last year’s quarter-finalist. It is important that the Norwegian exerts constant pressure from this side, but not trying to look for a quick conclusion at any cost, being too respected by the speed of the favorite.
Ruud just has to construct plays carefully and wait for the induced error on the other side of the net. It should not be forgotten that Alcaraz has already played three straight five-set matches and his legs may not work the same way when he is forced to defend.
The superiority of the world number seven in terms of the first serve is also categorical. The serve and the return are the two most crucial elements in the outcome of any match, and the Scandinavian certainly has his arguments in this direction, as he wins far more points with the help of his forehand, and Carlitos himself often has a tendency to make direct errors from reception .
Expectations and odds
I believe that the match is on the youngster’s racket and the statistics are sufficiently indicative of the matter. Ruud hasn’t beaten a top 20 player so far and will now face a challenge he has shown in the past to be unwilling to overcome. All of which makes me predict a 3-1 sets win for the third seed.
The bookies are of exactly the same opinion, offering odds of just 1.44 for the youngster, while Ruud’s odds of success are quoted at 2.87, although such predictions have often been debunked, leaving us with the hope that we will witness a first class show of tennis . Traditionally, you can watch the match on the usual links in Tennis.bg!
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