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Ruud on Alcaraz's Scariest Weapon

By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, September 11, 2022

NEW YORK—Speed thrills. 

Carlos Alcaraz's committed closing kick is a primary reason he's raced up the rankings to become the youngest man in history to rise to world No. 1 says Casper Ruud.

More: Alcaraz Wins US Open, Rises to No. 1 

Playing assertive all-court tennis, Alcaraz conquered Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-3 in tonight's US Open final to capture his first Grand Slam championship and complete a riveting rise to world No. 1.

You can point to several strengths for Alcaraz's maiden major: the Miami Open champion cracked 55 winners, including firing 14 aces. Ruud recognized Alcaraz's eye-popping speed that seemed to shrink the world's largest tennis stadium court to the size of a chess board as his scariest strength.

"It's like when someone asks about player's biggest weapon, for instance, you tend to think forehand, backhand, serve, whatever it is," Ruud said. "But sort of his movement is one of his many weapons, of course. 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."

Transforming would-be winners into remarkable retrievals, Alcaraz's comprehensive court coverage recalls the Big 3. Ruud said Alcaraz combines Rafael Nadal's explosiveness with Novak Djokovic's flexibility, which explains why he's raced up the rankings.

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

Photo credit: Getty