Spanish teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz will become the youngest world No.1 in tennis history if he defeats Casper Ruud in the US Open final on Sunday.
The 19-year-old reached his first major final by defeating home crowd favourite Frances Tiafoe in a five-set thriller in the semi-final.
Alcaraz won his third consecutive five-set match at Flushing Meadows to set up a straight shootout with world No.7 Ruud, with the winner becoming the top-ranked player in the men’s game.
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A victory for Alcaraz will see the teenager reach the world No.1 ranking younger than current record holder Lleyton Hewitt, who reached the top of tennis at the age of 20.
Hewitt enjoyed a fruitful career which ended up with two Grand Slam titles (US Open 2001, Wimbledon 2002), while he reached the US Open final in 2004 and Australian Open final in 2005.
You wouldn’t bet against Alcaraz surpassing Hewitt’s Grand Slam tally in the next few years with the Spanish wonderkid on the precipice of being world No.1 despite only playing in his first major last year.
The current world No.5 has already won five career ATP titles, with four coming in 2022, including two Masters events at Madrid and Miami.
He has been impressive at Grand Slams but his young frame has struggled with the rigours of two-week five-set format at majors, meaning his best result was the quarters at US Open 2021 and French Open 2022.
But now Alcaraz has won his first-ever major semi-final and will go into the US Open 2022 final as favourite against Ruud.
It was a magnificent contest between Alcaraz and Tiafoe in the semi, with the American shading the first set in a tiebreaker despite struggling with his first serve.
But Alcaraz hit back immediately in the second set, before thrashing Tiafoe in the third and it looked like the match would be over in the fourth set.
However, Tiafoe twice fought back from a break down and saved a match point before winning the set in a breaker.
Alcaraz’s class showed in the deciding set as he got the job done despite Tiafoe going for absolutely everything and having the crowd behind him.