The early first quarter hard court season ends Sunday in Miami with two clay courters locking up for the second Masters event of 2022.
While the names might be a surprise, they really are not.
Carlos Alcaraz has been a story for the last six months and Casper Ruud has become a blue-chip threat, making the transition from his favored clay, where he’s reached the last three Masters semifinals, to hard courts.
If it feels like Ruud is the old guy, it’s because he is. At 23, he’s five years senior to Alcaraz and comes in with a heck of a lot less hype.
Before a look at the final, a quick rewind of what was a strange event. Like the women’s, we saw plenty of injuries and illness, headlined by Daniil Medvedev who was far from his best in a loss to Hubert Hurkacz. Now we know that the Russian might be out for the clay season.
Alexander Zverev continues to struggle which is understandable given what he’s been dealing with — and Zverev lost to Ruud.
Stefanos Tsitsipas still seems broken from that French final loss – he lost to Alcaraz.
With the draw open on his side, Andrey Rublev got dusted by Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios continues to be an enigma bound to delight and disgust.
The Americans had a decent first week, but ran out of gas. Indian Wells champ Taylor Fritz has his run stopped by the Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic who is coming into his own — remember he was supposed to be Novak Djokovic’s first round opponent at the Australian Open.
Jenson Brooksby served for the first set against Daniil Medvedev before relenting and Frances Tiafoe continues to show flashes.
But we are down to just two…
CARLOS ALCARAZ v CASPER RUUD
Regardless of winner, we will have a new Masters champion on Sunday, following Fritz’s fantastic run. And the way things are going, that winner won’t be the last new champion this season (maybe not even this month).
I say that because the loser could very well take one of the clay Masters, and you could make the case this could be a French Open final in years (or months?) to come.
Because he’s from Spain, because he has flair and because he’s just 18, Alcaraz has that hype, and it’s warranted. The kid is going to win Slams and is going to be a Top 3 player.
So far this year, he’s lost just two matches — a thriller to Matteo Berrettini at the Australian Open and that tight one with Rafa a few weeks ago.
Ruud has also been strong. He doesn’t come in with the spotlight, but the Norwegian has been one of the most consistent players the last 12 months. While he might not have the upside of an Alcaraz, Ruud is rock solid.
The biggest shot on the court tomorrow might be the Ruud serve and his forehand is massive. He also has the experience.
Ruud is in his 10th final with seven wins. Alcaraz his third title bout with two wins.
I’ll give a slight edge to Alcaraz based on momentum and the fact he’ll have the Spanish-speaking crowd in his pocket.
The teen has the higher high, but Ruud will show up and make this a match. If Ruud serves well and gets a breaker, he can win it, otherwise it’s Alcaraz.
The pick: Alcaraz in two
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What a win! The kid has arrived.
April 3rd, 2022 at 4:37 pm