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Casper Ruud full of praise for new No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz: "In a way it's a good thing because I can still chase the spot."
"He's one of these few rare talents that comes up every now and then in sports," said the US Open runner-up.
Published Sep 12, 2022
Casper Ruud had high praise for Carlos Alcaraz despite the disappointment of his defeat to the Spanish teen in the US Open final.
Each player was looking for his first Grand Slam title and the No. 1 ranking, with Alcaraz securing the distinctions a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory.
Ruud said he considered the 19-year-old currently ''the best player" on tour, as reflected by his ranking.
"I'm happy that we played each other in the final and that we played for the title and the world No. 1 spot. I think it's deserving we are No. 1 and No. 2 tomorrow," the 23-year-old from Norway told press at Flushing Meadows on Sunday.
Ruud, who also reached the final of the French Open, falling to idol and 14-time champ Rafael Nadal, will reach a career-high ranking himself and says he will keep going for the top spot.
"I'm very proud of being No. 2. In a way it's a good thing because I can still chase the spot. There is only one more spot to conquer, but it will be tough for sure," said Ruud.
Ruud wasn't surprised that Alcaraz emerged the winner of a wide open field at Flushing Meadows.
"I think I've said it at least before, he's one of these few rare talents that comes up every now and then in sports," he said, pointing to his opponent's "will to win" that saw him come through three five-setters while reaching the final.
Along with his all-around game, Alcaraz frequently had the crowd on his feet with his ability to run down balls and come up with winners. Alcaraz also won the Miami and Madrid Masters this season; he defeated Ruud in the Miami final.
Ruud, who now falls to 0-3 in their career meetings, agrees that the teen's movement is a weapon in itself, comparable to Nadal to Novak Djokovic.
"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," said Ruud.
"Rafa, when he was Carlos's age, he was also similar. He tracked down everything. Almost no one could hit a winner on him. Novak the same with his flexibility. Carlos has sort of a mixture of both. Speed, agility of the players I think are just improving."
Alcaraz, meanwhile is concentrating on his next goal—to keep going.
The 19-year-old had a remarkable run to the title at the US Open, but having come through the ranks while Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were dominating, he wants even more.
''I want to keep working, I want to keep winning big titles, being at the top for a long time like the Big Three has done," Alcaraz told press in Spanish. "What the Big Three has done is even more difficult, to stay on top for so many years, winning everything."
And he's willing to do what that requires. Even though he got the trophy and lots of accolades with his play at Flushing Meadows, Alcaraz plans to keep working on his game.
"I am a 19-year-old kid, so there is a lot of room for improvement," he said. "Reaching No. 1 doesn't say there is no need to improve. The Big Three changed during the years. There is something to improve, always. Now is the time you have to give the most effort and work."
He's backing it up by getting right back on court this week to play Davis Cup for Spain in Valencia, where he also trains, though he will likely not be competing in the first tie against Serbia in the four-nation group competition.