© Simon Bruty/USTA

Casper Ruud defeats Karen Khachanov in four sets on Friday in the US Open semi-finals.

Ruud Analyses 55-Shot Rally That Turned US Open Semi-final

Norwegian is into his second major final

Casper Ruud advanced to his second Grand Slam final and his first at the US Open with a four-set win against Karen Khachanov on Friday. One point might have made all the difference.

At 6/5 in the first-set tie-break, the pair engaged in a long rally. Neither man took control of the point until Ruud unleashed a backhand up the line that Khachanov missed into the net. The 55-shot rally not only earned Ruud the set, but gave him a heavy dose of momentum leading into the set set, which he claimed 6-2.

“It was a very important point in the match. Of course, set point. I had not wasted two because he served well on the two previous set points. I knew this [was] a chance to win the first set. I'm on my serve,” Ruud recalled. “I missed a serve by small margins the first serve. Looked like it could be an ace. Second serve we played for the rally. I think we both just refused to do a mistake knowing how important that point is.”

Both players struck the ball with plenty of margin until Ruud cracked the backhand that ultimately decided the point.

“That's fun with tennis because some of the best rallies of all time, longer rallies of all times, often come in important points because we both realise how important it is. You don't want to do a mistake,” Ruud said. “Towards the end the pulse was getting very high and the legs were almost shaking at a point. I was able to at one point there where I just ripped the backhand down the line and went for it sort of. Could stretch my arms in the air and win the first set.

“Like I said, I think it was a key factor to win the second set, and that gave of course motivation and energy to play good and keep going in the second.”

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The 55-stroke rally was the longest of the tournament as of the end of the match, according to tournament officials. The next-longest rally of the event came between Daniil Medvedev and Wu Yibing, which lasted 36 shots, in the third round.

Although Khachanov battled hard, the lengthy rally put him in too deep of a hole. Ruud moved into his second major final of the season, after also reaching the championship match at Roland Garros.

The stakes will be even higher for Ruud on this occasion. If Carlos Alcaraz defeats Frances Tiafoe in tonight’s second semi-final, Ruud will need to beat Alcaraz for the trophy on Sunday to leave New York with the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking.

“I think what's most fair is if we both reach the final and whoever wins the final reaches the World No. 1. That would be I think the ideal situation,” Ruud said. “If I go to bed as No. 1, I will sleep pretty damn well, I guess.”

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