The second Masters 1000 title of the season will be won on Sunday when two of the brighter rising stars in the game meet in the ATP Miami Open final as Carlos Alcaraz takes on Casper Ruud for the biggest title of their career.
Both men have come through the draw pretty nicely this week and look to be peaking for a good crack at this final. They both had a day off on Saturday so should be physical well and able to deliver their best tennis on the big stage.
We saw Carlos Alcaraz come to the attention of everyone at the US Open last season and he seems to love American hard courts because after making the semi-final of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells where he narrowly went down to Rafael Nadal, he has gone at least one leg better this week and will now be bidding to win his first Masters 1000 title. Should he go on and win here you get the impression it will be the first of many events he will win at this level in his career.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing for the Spaniard this week though it has to be said. He has had to battle hard in the last three rounds but in the times in those matches when his best tennis has been allowed to come out he has looked a cut above most in the competition. He will be looking to impose himself on this final at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure that nerves don’t get the better of him at any stage.
Casper Ruud is no stranger to winning tournaments. He did it five times last season. He even won in America when he took down an event in San Diego but this will be the biggest day of his career if he can come out on top here. He was once seen as a clay court specialist but it is clear from the last 18 months or so that he is equally adept on a hard court, especially in this part of the world where the abrasive courts fluff the ball up a bit.
Ruud has made a tricky draw look incredibly easy this week. He had the advantage of a weak draw in the semi-final against an opponent who was probably fortunate to have made it that far and who was out of his depth as a result, but the Norwegian has taken care of the likes of Cam Norrie and Alexander Zverev on his way to this final so he certainly deserves his place in this final. He is the higher ranked man but there aren’t many giving him a hope here which might suit him nicely.
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Head to head
These two have only met on one previous occasion and it came about just over a year ago on the clay courts of Marbella. Alcaraz won that in straight sets but that was before Ruud because the tournament winning machine he has been in recent times. This will be the biggest meeting of their career not just because it is a final but also because it is a Masters 1000 event where the winner will be treading new territory in their promising careers.
Given what is at stake in this match I’m expecting a closely fought contest. Both players don’t have the greatest serve but I think Ruud edges it in that department which can keep him in the sets. They both have a cannon of a forehand though and are able to get that shot into play so that one strike to set the point up can mean that breaks of serve are not easy to come by. When you then add in that both will be fresh from a day off we really should get a good quality final.
The game line for this match is 21.5 and that feels a little low to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one goes to a decider set given what is at stake but even if it doesn’t we only need one tight set and a competitive second one for the over to land here. The last three sets that Alcaraz has played have gone to a tiebreak and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of them in this final. However the score pans out I like over 21.5 games in this one.
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