US Open: Alcaraz's movement a mixture of Nadal and Djokovic, says beaten finalist Ruud

·3-min read

Carlos Alcaraz has a mixture of the qualities Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic possess, according to the man he defeated in the men's US Open final Casper Ruud.

Prodigious Spanish talent Alcaraz became a grand slam champion for the first time at the age of just 19 thanks to a 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 triumph at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.

It was a win that propelled him to the top of the world rankings for the first time, while Ruud has now lost two slam finals this year having been defeated by Nadal at the French Open.

Ruud was philosophical about losing to a player many believe will be the dominant force in the men's game, likening his movement on the court to legends Nadal and Djokovic.

"When someone asks about a player's biggest weapon you tend to think forehand, backhand, serve, whatever it is," Ruud said.

"But sort of his movement is one of his many weapons. It makes us other players feel like you need to paint the lines sort of to be able to hit a winner. Sometimes even that's not enough.

"He's very fast. He's very quick. He's a great mover. He can get to balls that we've probably never seen before.

"But you have other great movers, as well. I mean, this game has become so physically demanding, and all the players in the top of the world, they do the right things to improve always.

"Speed, agility of the players I think are just improving, improving. The physical aspect has been not changed but it has improved by everyone.

"I think Novak and Rafa and also [Roger] Federer, I think they kind of set the bar on how well you can move out there.

"Rafa, when he was Carlos' age, he was also similar. He tracked down everything. Almost no one could hit a winner on him. Novak the same with his flexibility. He gets to certain shots that you think, 'how is that even possible?'

"Carlos has sort of a mixture of both. He's fast, flexible. He can slide around. It's impressive. He's a hard nut to crack."

Ruud can take consolation from the fact his second appearance at a slam final was a marked improvement on Roland Garros where Nadal breezed to a 6-3 6-3 6-0 triumph.

The Norwegian conceded he had more belief going up against Alcaraz in New York, though he – somewhat tongue-in-cheek – added he hopes not to play a Spaniard in any future slam finals.

"I think obviously if you reach a grand slam final, whoever you play will be a great player on the opposite side of the net," he added.

"At Roland Garros, it was hard for me to believe that I could beat Rafa. Today was not easier, but I believed it more. I think these two tournaments have sort of made my self-belief to win a grand slam grow.

"Hopefully these two experiences can help me. I guess I hope I don't play a Spanish player if I ever reach another slam final! They know what they're doing in the slam finals. Let's hope for another than a Spanish [player]."

Ruud added: "I still thought I was the underdog in a way because of Carlos, he's on paper higher ranking and all these things.

"But it was more fun for me today. I didn't need to play the biggest idol of my life on the biggest match of my life. It was sort of easier for me to believe that I could win."