US Open Day 12: Carlos Alcaraz survives Frances Tiafoe to set up final battle with Casper Ruud

·6 min read

The 2022 US Open men's singles final is set. It will be a showcase of tennis' future.

The 23-year-old Casper Ruud and 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia will square off at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday after walking away with big wins in the semifinals. Not only will a first career Grand Slam title be at stake for both players, the winner will also ascend to the No. 1 ranking on the ATP Tour.

Here's how each of them reached that point on Friday, with Ruud dispatching Karen Khachanov of Russia and Alcaraz surviving yet another five-set, late-night war, this time against local favorite Frances Tiafoe.

Carlos Alcaraz rolls into US Open final

You can't fault Alcaraz for his consistency. For the third straight match, Alcaraz took a five-set match deep into the night for a 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 win over Tiafoe, ending the American's dream run.

Roughly 48 hours after needing five hours to beat Jannik Sinner, Alcaraz beat Tiafoe in the relatively tidy time of four hours and 19 minutes, with a collection of celebrities that included Michelle Obama cheering along the way.

Once again, Alcaraz could only collapse to the ground once the final point was decided.

The first set was pushed to a tiebreak, with neither player dropping a service game. They reached the tiebreaker after a wild rally in Alcaraz's final service game, ending with a battle at the net.

Tiafoe, however, extended his perfect tiebreak run at the US Open and made it out of the first set with a 7-5 win to take the early lead. That marked his seventh tiebreak win of the tournament, which ties a tournament record.

The second set remained just as competitive ... for a while. Alcaraz maintained his high level of play, but Tiafoe started missing from the baseline enough to give the Spaniard a break, and soon the set.

By that point, Alcaraz settled into a groove. He won 16 of the next 19 points to take a dominant 4-0 lead, all but shutting Tiafoe down in the set on his way to a dominant win.

Alacaraz seemed on his way to sewing things up by breaking Tiafoe early in the fourth set, but the American got the stadium back on his side with two straight breaks of Alcaraz, to tie up the fourth set 4-4, thanks largely to a run where he won eight of the last 10 points.

Alcaraz, though, never went away. He powered through the next game and got a point away from the win, but Tiafoe battled back with a huge save to send the serve to Alcaraz at 5-5.

The two then split and Tiafoe forced another tiebreak, the eighth of the tournament. After going 5-5, Tiafoe drilled an ace off a 133 mph serve and then picked up the win after Alcaraz hit one out to give Tiafoe the win and send the match to a fifth set.

Even with Tiafoe riding all that momentum and emotion, Alcaraz took back control with a break to open the fifth set. Tiafoe seemed to get back in it with a break back to even it 2-2, generating a show of frustration from Alcaraz, but then Alcaraz found another gear. Two more breaks of Tiafoe followed, as missed first serves and avoidable mistakes from the baseline started piling up.

Casper Ruud headed to US Open final

Casper Ruud is headed back to a Grand Slam final.

Ruud beat Karen Khachanov in his semifinal match at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday afternoon 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 to officially earn his spot in the US Open finals.

The Norwegian, who fell in the French Open finals to Rafael Nadal earlier this year, has nine titles to his name and three already this season. He has yet to win a major.

If he wins on Sunday, or Alcaraz loses on Friday, Ruud will become the top ranked player in the world.

"After Rolland Garros, I was of course extremely happy but at the same time humble enough to think that could be my only final in a Grand Slam in my career. It doesn't come easy," Ruud said on the court. "Here I'm back again a couple months later, so it feels beyond words to describe."

Though Ruud jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first set, Khachanov rallied right back and forced a tiebreak in what ended up being a battle nearly the whole way through. It ended on a wild 55-shot rally, too, which marked the second-longest ever recorded.

Ruud was clearly in a groove after that win. He opened up the second set on a huge 5-1 run before taking the 2-1 win, putting him just a set away from his second Grand Slam final of the year.

Khachanov, however, wasn’t done. He alternated games throughout the third set until he finally mounted a 6-5 lead and then broke Ruud’s serve to win his first set of the game.

It wasn’t until Ruud broke out a huge point in the fourth set that he was finally able to pull away from Khachanov once again.

That gave him a 2-1 lead, which quickly turned into a 4-1 lead before he closed out the match 6-2 — officially sending him to the finals.

This post will be updated.

Casper Ruud at the US Open
Casper Ruud is headed to the US Open final. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)