Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud Closing In On No.1 Dream At US Open - UBITENNIS
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Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud Closing In On No.1 Dream At US Open

The three-way race to world No.1 continues but who will it be?

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Image via https://twitter.com/ATPTour_ES/

Rafael Nadal’s fourth round exit from the US Open has opened the door for two players to claim the No.1 ranking for the first time in their careers. 

Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz is in with a shot of achieving the milestone which would complete what has been a truly remarkable year for the 19-year-old who started 2022 yet to break the world’s top 30. In recent months, he has won four Tour titles, including Master 1000 events in Madrid and Miami.

At the US Open Alcaraz sealed a place in the quarter-finals after coming through a marathon match against Marin Cilic which didn’t conclude until 2:24 am. Making it the fourth-latest match to ever finish at the Grand Slam. The world No.3 prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, to become the youngest man in the Open Era to have reached back-to-back US Open quarter-finals. 

“Honestly, I have no idea,” Alcaraz replied when asked how he won the match. “It was pretty, pretty tough at the beginning of the fifth set [being a] break down. But Marin was playing unbelievable. I believe in myself all the time. Of course the support today in Arthur Ashe [Stadium] was crazy. Without you guys, it wouldn’t be possible to win this match tonight, so thank you very much for the support tonight, thank you.
“I would say 100 per cent of the energy I put in the fifth set was thanks to you. It was unbelievable.”

Also in contention claiming the No.1 position is Norway’s Casper Ruud who would become the first Scandinavian man to do so since Sweden’s Stefan Edberg in 1992. Ruud will play his quarter-final match in New York on Tuesday against Matteo Berrettini. So far at the tournament he has dropped at least one set in three out of his four previous rounds. 

”It has been a dream of mine to play on this court at least one time in my career,” Ruud said when asked about competing at Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time on Sunday. “Now I have a win here as well, so I can tell my future kids and grandkids that I played here and that will be a fun story to tell. It was amazing.”

For Alcaraz or Ruud to claim the No.1 sport, a couple of scenarios must happen. On the opposite sides of the draw, one of them will claim the top spot if they reach the final and the other doesn’t. Should they both reach the final, the winner will top the standings, as well as win their first Grand Slam title. 

If none of these scenarios happen, Nadal will return to No.1 on Monday for the 210th week in his career. 

The race to No.1 in points

NADAL (out of US Open): 

  • R4 loss: 5810 points

ALCARAZ (still in draw) 

  • Reach QF: 5100 points
  • Reach SF: 5460 points
  • Runner-up: 5940 points
  • Champion: 6740 points

RUUD (still in draw)

  • Reach QF: 5010 points
  • Reach SF: 5370 points
  • Runner-up: 5850 points
  • Champion: 6650 points

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Rafael Nadal To Play Laver Cup In Berlin

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Rafael Nadal has eased speculation that he might be retiring from the sport soon after signing on to play in the Laver Cup later this year. 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is the latest player to join the line-up for this year’s team competition which features Europe taking on the rest of the world over three days. It will be Nadal’s fourth appearance in the competition and his first since 2022. He competed in the inaugural edition of the event back in 2017 alongside co-founder Roger Federer. 

“I am very happy to be playing Laver Cup in Berlin for Team Europe,” Nadal said in a press release. “I have some really special memories from my Laver Cup experiences, including all the emotions from London two years ago playing alongside Roger for the last time.”

Nadal’s decision to play comes amid questions about his future in the sport. The former world No.1 has previously indicated that this year could be his last on the Tour but he has stated that no decision has been made. In recent months he has been sidelined from action due to injury setbacks and has only been able to play in two tournaments so far this year. 

“At this stage in my career I really want to go out there and make the most of every opportunity I am given,” he explains.
“Teaming up is always an incredible experience and I have always enjoyed it, the competition is different and exciting. I’m looking forward to going to Berlin and helping Team Europe win back the Laver Cup.”

Other European players confirmed to be playing are Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul have agreed to play for Team World. This year’s event will be held in Belin at the Uber Arena between September 20-22. 

The Laver Cup was inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup. It was co-founded by Federer’s Team8 management company (which he formed with agent Tony Godsick), businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann and Tennis Australia. In 2019 it became an official ATP sanction event and now has a place on the official calendar. 

Nadal is set to return to competitive action at the Madrid Masters which he has won on five previous occasions. He has been drawn to play teenage wild card Darwin Blanch in the first round. If he wins, Nadal will then play Alex de Minaur who knocked him out of the Barcelona Open last week. 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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