Casper Ruud defeated Karen Khachanov to reach his second grand slam final of the season at the US Open and move to within one result of taking over as world number one.
The Norwegian has not yet become a big name outside tennis but he has grown into one of the most consistent performers in the men’s game and made his first slam final at the French Open this year, losing to Rafael Nadal.
Clay is the 23-year-old’s best surface but he is catching up fast on hard courts and continued his excellent run in New York with a 7-6 (5) 6-2 5-7 6-2 win over Russian Khachanov.
Casper Ruud won 3 matches in his first 4 #USOpen appearances.
He's into the final in his 5th try. 👏 pic.twitter.com/QpTZJtyBrq
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2022
Ruud gave an understated fist pump after clinching victory, saying: “This was another great match from my side. I think we were both a bit nervous at the beginning. This match is probably the biggest match of both of our careers.
“Phenomenal in the second and the fourth sets and Karen stepped up in the third. I’m just extremely happy. I thought the French Open might have been the only slam final of my career. Here I am back again a couple of months later. It feels beyond words to describe.”
Khachanov had produced one of the best performances of his career to beat Nick Kyrgios and reach a first slam semi-final but could not match the consistency of Ruud, who is now guaranteed to overtake Nadal in the rankings and will be number one unless Carlos Alcaraz wins the title.
This was a huge chance for both men – for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 1881, all four men were first-time semi-finalists in New York – and early nerves were evident.
Ruud led 2-0 then found himself a break down as Khachanov, the Olympic silver medallist last summer, took four of the next five games – but back came the Norwegian.
The tie-break was also tight but it was Ruud who clinched it on his third set point after a remarkable 55-shot rally.
The fifth seed then appeared to take complete control of the contest in the second set only for Khachanov to fight back and claim the third.
Ruud came out firing at the start of the fourth, though, breaking serve with a monstrous forehand in the third game and pulling away to claim victory.