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Casper Ruud defeats Karen Khachanov in four sets to reach his first US Open final.

Ruud Seals US Open Final Spot, Continues World No. 1 Quest

Norwegian moves closer to World No. 1

Casper Ruud moved past Karen Khachanov 7-6(5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 at the US Open on Friday to reach his second Grand Slam final, further boosting his chances of rising to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The Norwegian soaked up the 27th seed’s powerful hitting while he won an epic 55-shot rally to win the first set. The fifth seed played with great intensity throughout the three-hour clash as he forced the 26-year-old into errors to move to within one win of capturing his maiden major title.

Ruud, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros final in June, will face #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz or American Frances Tiafoe in the championship match. Should the fifth seed triumph in New York, he will become the first Norwegian to rise to World No. 1 on Monday. He will also climb to top spot if Tiafoe eliminates two-time ATP Masters 1000 champion Alcaraz in tonight's semi-final. By reaching the final, Ruud ended Rafael Nadal's hopes of returning to World No. 1 Monday.

“This match today was another great match from my side,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “I think we were both a bit nervous at the beginning, a few breaks back and forth. But you have to take into account that this match is probably the biggest in both of our careers. Of course there will also be some nerves but I was fortunate to win that first set, which calmed my nerves a little bit.

“I played phenomenal in the second and Karen stepped up in the third. It was back and forth like every five-setter is, but I am just so happy. After Roland Garros I was extremely happy but of course humble enough to think that could be my only final at a Grand Slam in my career. It doesn’t come easy, but here I am back again a couple [of] months later.”

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The 23-year-old had never been beyond the third round in four previous appearances in New York. However, he has looked at home on the North American hard courts this fortnight, eliminating seeds Tommy Paul and Matteo Berrettini en route to the semi-finals.

In a confident display against Khachanov, the Norwegian demonstrated great movement to fend off danger. He also caused damage from his own racquet, opening his shoulders in the second and fourth sets to improve to 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.

Ruud has drawn level with Cameron Norrie on 44 tour-level wins this season. Only Alcaraz (49) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (46) have earned more. The nine-time tour-level titlist has lifted trophies in Buenos Aires, Geneva and Gstaad in 2022, while he advanced to the final in Miami.

Both showed signs of nerves in a tight first set as the size of the occasion seemed to get to them. Four breaks were exchanged in the opening eight games, before they started to find great control and rhythm on serve. With a tie-break needed to decide the opener, it was Ruud who clinched the set in style.

Serving at 6/5, the Norwegian outlasted Khachanov in a high-quality 55-shot rally. Ruud locked down off both wings and then fired a backhand down the line that the 27th seed could only push into the net. The 23-year-old raised his arms aloft and embraced the New York roar as he walked back to his chair.

With the first set under his belt, Ruud looked more relaxed during the second set and started to hurt Khachanov off the ground. The Norwegian struck 12 winners and committed just two unforced errors in the set to move further clear.

However, Khachanov refused to go away and was strong on serve in the third set, winning 85 per cent (17/20) of points behind his first delivery. He then returned with great depth in the 12th game to secure a foothold in the match. Ruud was not to be denied, though. He struck a stunning forehand winner down the line to break for 2-1 and then held his nerve on serve to advance.

The 27th seed Khachanov was competing in his first major semi-final, having clawed past Montreal Champion Pablo Carreno Busta and Washington champion Nick Kyrgios in five sets in his past two matches. Despite falling to Ruud, the four-time tour-level titlist is up to No. 18 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his run at the hard-court event.

Did You Know?
Ruud will qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals if he wins the title on Sunday. The Norwegian, who reached the semi-finals at the end-of-year event in 2021, would become the third singles player to qualify, joining Nadal and Alcaraz.

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