The 2022 U.S. Open men's singles final will crown a first-time major champion and a new No. 1 in the ATP world rankings.
Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud will face off inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday with the pressure of both achievements looming over them.
Ruud appears to have the slight advantage over Alcaraz going into Sunday for a few reasons.
Ruud spent less time on court over the last week in New York and has played in a Grand Slam final before. The fifth-seeded Norwegian lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 French Open final.
Alcaraz battled through three straight five-set matches against Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe just to get to the final. The 19-year-old Spaniard also played the late match on Friday and will have less time to recover.
Alcaraz should not be counted out of the final because of the performances he has pulled off in the last three rounds, and if he wins another thrilling match, his run to the title would go down as one of the best in recent history.
U.S. Open Men's Singles Final Info
Date: Sunday, September 11
Start Time: 4 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN.com and WatchESPN
The winner of Sunday's final will become the third straight first-time major winner to earn the U.S. Open men's singles title.
Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev won in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Thiem beat Alexander Zverev in a clash of players going for their first major win. Medvedev beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets last year.
The Grand Slam final stage is new to Alcaraz, who had not advanced past the quarterfinals at a major prior to his run in New York. Ruud's final appearance at the French Open was an outlier compared to the rest of his major results before the U.S. Open.
Ruud's experience of going through the motions of a Grand Slam final earlier this season should calm his nerves a bit ahead of Sunday's final.
Ruud lost that match in straight sets to Rafael Nadal, which is a result that a majority of Nadal's opponents have experienced at Roland Garros.
The Norwegian also has the edge in court time from the last week, which could help him stay fresh if the match goes four or five sets.
Ruud took care of Matteo Berrettini in three sets and defeated Karen Khachanov in four sets in the last two rounds.
Alcaraz battled through five sets versus Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe in the last two rounds, and he also went the distance in the round of 16 against 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic.
Alcaraz has some work to do to remain fresh after playing late into the night on Friday, but the good news for him is he is 19 and can probably recover better than most players on tour right now.
The Spaniard should go into the final with some confidence as well since he has a 2-0 record against Ruud in his career. The most recent win came in Miami earlier this season. Alcaraz has won all four sets he has played against Ruud.
The two head-to-head matches provide a small sample size for what Saturday's match could look like, but that previous success should help Alcaraz a bit as he gets settled into the match.
The matchup itself appears to be fairly even because of all of the circumstances that led up to the final.
Alcaraz has been better in head-to-head matchups, and he has shown the ability to close in five-set matches, but Ruud is fresher and played in a major final before.
The evenness of the matchup suggests we will see four or five sets to determine who claims their first title and the No. 1 world ranking.
Although Alcaraz will be on shorter rest, the long matches have not seemed to faze him much in New York.
The key for Alcaraz is to avoid a slow start and tiebreaks. He lost the first set to Tiafoe on Friday and dropped four sets with tiebreaks against Tiafoe and Sinner.
Alcaraz won three of his four sets against Ruud by a score of 6-4 or better. Getting the early breaks will be key for the Spaniard as he tries to beat out his well-rested counterpart.
Prediction: Alcaraz over Ruud in five sets