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Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, or Casper Ruud: Who will be No. 1 after the US Open?

All three players have a chance to be at the top of the rankings at the end of this week.

Alcaraz-NadalCarlos Alcaraz Garfia (left) with Rafael Nadal. (Reuters)

Daniil Medvedev’s fourth-round US Open defeat to Nick Kyrgios not only ended his title defence earlier than expected, but the Russian will also be losing his place at the top of the world rankings, dropping 1,820 points. The man widely tipped to replace him at the top, Rafael Nadal, lost to Frances Tiafoe at the same hurdle.

Nadal may be best placed, but this has paved the way for Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz to usurp take the top spot at the top as well.

The following are the scenarios that must take place for any of the three to be World No. 1 after the final in New York.

Nadal in pole position

The Spaniard was far from his best at the US Open. Still nursing the abdominal injury he suffered at Wimbledon, his first three matches were at a low level, and Tiafoe took advantage of that to knock him out. The 36-year-old will miss out on a fifth US Open title, and a 23rd Grand Slam, but he may still be World No. 1 at the end of the week.

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When he came to New York, Nadal knew that no matter what happens elsewhere, the title will confirm his World No. 1 spot, and even though those hopes are dead, Medvedev’s early loss made things conducive for him.

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, waves to fans after his loss to Frances Tiafoe, of the United States, during the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

At 5,810 points, Nadal is already at the top in the Live Rankings (unofficial until the US Open ends). Had he gotten past Tiafoe on Monday he would have gained another 180 points, which would have been enough as long as Ruud or Alcaraz didn’t win the title.

As things stand though, Ruud or Alcaraz will replace him at the top of either one of them reaches the final.

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Could Alcaraz or Ruud take the next step in New York?

Alcaraz’s meteoric rise to the top of men’s tennis would be sealed if he were to win his first Grand Slam this year, and even though he has a difficult draw ahead of him, the World No. 1 spot could be his even before the final.

Defending points from his quarterfinal finish last year, the young Spaniard’s live ranking has him at a total of 5,100 points, making him the World No. 2 ahead of Medvedev. Regardless of what happens elsewhere, if Alcaraz lifts the title on Sunday, he’ll be the World No. 1, rounding out one of the biggest stories in men’s tennis in recent years.

Carlos Alcaraz, of Spain, tosses the ball for a serve. (AP)

As mentioned earlier though, if the 19-year-old reaches the final, he will be confirmed as the World No. 1 after the tournament regardless of the result, provided he is not facing Ruud in the summit clash.

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If Ruud and Alcaraz face off in the final, it will be the first time in men’s tennis history that a Grand Slam and the World No. 1 ranking spot will be decided by the outcome of one match.

Casper Ruud. (AP/PTI)

For Ruud, the path to the top spot is a bit more complicated. At 5,010 points, he is still the World No. 5, but another win would confirm him to be at least World No. 3.  With Nadal’s loss, the Norwegian will be World No. 1 if he lifts the title on Sunday, and as is the case for Alcaraz, just reaching the final will be enough for Ruud to become World No. 1 provided he does not lose to Alcaraz in that clash.

First published on: 05-09-2022 at 09:20:13 pm
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