Tennis-Ruud reaches U.S. Open final with confident win over Khachanov

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Norwegian Casper Ruud harnessed his mighty forehand to reach his second Grand Slam final this year by beating Russian Karen Khachanov 7-6(5) 6-2 5-7 6-2 at the U.S. Open, keeping alive his hopes of reaching the top of the world rankings.

The first Norwegian man to reach the final at Flushing Meadows won an extraordinary 55-shot rally to close the first-set tiebreak on his way to victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The fifth seed next faces either home hope Frances Tiafoe or third seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain in the final.

“This match is probably the biggest match for both of our careers,” said Ruud, who was left humbled when he lost in straight sets to Rafa Nadal in June’s Roland Garros final.

“You want to take care of the opportunities you have and I was able to do that today.”

The 23-year-old Ruud is known for his poise on clay but was equally effective on New York’s hard courts, winning 14 straight points to build a 5-1 lead in a near-flawless second set.

His form deteriorated in the third, where he racked up 11 unforced errors and handed Khachanov the break on set point.

However, Ruud bounced back to convert breaks on chances in the third and fifth game of the fourth set and clinched the contest with a forehand winner, one of 20 across the match.

Ruud would make the leap from world number seven to number one if he hoists the trophy on Sunday or if Tiafoe beats Alcaraz in their semi-final later on Friday, according to the ATP.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris)