Casper Ruud saluted Carlos Alcaraz as a deserving world number one after the Spanish teenager swept to the top of the global rankings with his US Open victory on Sunday.
Ruud, who leapt up to second in the rankings following his 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 defeat, had no complaints following the loss against a player he described as a “hard nut to crack.”
“He’s riding that wave,” the 23-year-old Norwegian said Alcaraz.
“At the moment he’s the best player in the world in my eyes. He deserves that spot.
“He’s one of these few rare talents that comes up every now and then in sports. That’s what it seems like.”
Ruud said Alcaraz’s formidable combination of speed around the court and flexibility in making shots from improbable positions were reminiscent of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
“He’s very fast. He’s very quick. He’s a great mover. He can get to balls that we’ve probably never seen before,” Ruud said.
“Carlos has sort of a mixture ... He’s fast, flexible. He can slide around. It’s impressive. He’s a hard nut to crack.”
Alcaraz’s achievements were all the more impressive given he was still only 19-years-old, Ruud added.
“It’s sometimes hard to believe he’s only a teenager,” he said. “But, yeah, he is. He’s more than four years younger than myself. It’s incredible.”
Alcaraz’s speed and tenacity came to the fore in the third set of Sunday’s win, when he saved two set points that would have given Ruud a 2-1 lead in the match.
“Carlos stepped up when he really needed to,” Alcaraz said. “Especially in the third set, it was close to go in my favour.
“I had some set points and couldn’t take care of them. He just played too good on those points. We’ve seen it many times before, he steps up when he needs to.
“When it’s close, he pulls out great shots.”