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 Alcaraz goes “super human” and 5 sets again to beat Tiafoe, Ruud defeats Khachanov in US Open Tennis semis

Winner Carlos Alcaraz of Spain reacts to the spectators after his victory against Frances Tiafoe of the United States after their five-set marathon in the Men’s Singles Semi-Final match on Arthur Ashe Stadium during the US Open Tennis Championship 2022. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

And then there were two….

Carlos Alcaraz vs. Casper Ruud may not be the final that many expected, but they are without question the two most deserving players to be where they are–in Sunday’s U.S. Open final. Look no further than the upcoming ATP rankings to confirm it. Alcaraz and Ruud will be No. 1 and No. 2 in the world…in some order. Whoever wins will assume the top spot.

Alcaraz, especially, had to battle into the championship match the hard way. Dating back to the fourth round against Marin Cilic, he has played three consecutive five-setters. Two have ended after 2:00 am–including a five-hour and 15-minute quarterfinal thriller against Jannik Sinner that concluded at 2:50 am. What did Alcaraz do for an encore following the latest finish in tournament history? He got right back in gear two days later and outlasted Frances Tiafoe 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 in the semis.

The 19-year-old needed four hours and 19 minutes to advance.

“It was incredible for me,” Alcaraz assured. “I think I played great against Frances, who was playing unbelievable, as well, these two weeks. It’s an incredible feeling to be in a final, to be able to win this match…. I feel great right now–I mean, a little bit tired. But, yeah, I feel good, I feel great. Right now I’m just so, so happy.”

The Spaniard will be even happier come Sunday night if he manages to complete his amazing run with one more victory. After all, the stakes could not be higher for both players: a maiden Grand Slam title and the No. 1 ranking.

Casper Ruud of Norway celebrates at the US Open. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Since edging Tommy Paul in a five-setter back in the third round, Ruud has enjoyed a much easier time of things compared to Alcaraz. The fifth seed’s second week in New York has included nothing but four-set results–over Corentin Moutet, Matteo Berrettini, and Karen Khachanov.

In Friday’s first semifinal, Ruud won a 55-ball rally to convert set point in the opener and went on to defeat Khachanov 7-6(5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in exactly three hours.

“I think that long rally on set point where I won the first set was a key to gain sort of strength and play well in the second,” Ruud reflected. “When you lose a first set like that, it’s tough to bounce back.”

Khachanov did briefly, but it wasn’t enough. Now with two surprising semifinalists out of the way, the stage is set for a grand finale.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.