Ruud into US Open semi with No.1 in sight

·3-min read

Norwegian fifth seed Casper Ruud admits he has extra motivation after beating Italy's Matteo Berrettini 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to reach the US Open semi-finals, knowing he can finish the tournament as world No.1.

Next up 23-year-old Ruud faces Karen Khachanov after the Russian wore down Nick Kyrgios 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 in the second, thrilling quarter-final on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Ruud must at least reach the final to have a chance at ending the Open as the top-ranked player in the world - a chance he gets thanks to Kyrgios's fourth-round defeat of current No.1 Daniil Medvedev.

Rising Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, who lost on Monday, can also both still end the year's final grand slam event as the new top-ranked player

"Of course it's a little bit (more) motivation," said Ruud. "I'm trying to go for it, of course."

The French Open runner-up to Nadal, Ruud beat Berrettini on clay in July's Gstaad final and looked just as effective on the hard court on Tuesday, hanging back behind the baseline to absorb the 13th seed's power.

Sprinting through a sublime first set in which he produced just two unforced errors, it looked like Ruud was on track for a blowout victory when he was up 5-1 in the second set.

"Everything sort of went in my favour. I was hitting all the spots, all the shots that I needed to. Matteo was maybe not showing the level he typically does," said Ruud.

But Berrettini slowly began to find his usual level and appeared to have cracked the code in the third set when he broke Ruud in the second game and saved four breaks in the third.

Ruud mustered a terrific comeback, breaking Berrettini in the ninth and never trailed in the tiebreak.

"That was (a) better start than I ever had before in a match," Ruud said, adding that he had to temper his enthusiasm in order to clinch the affair.

"Sometimes you can get a little overexcited and think you can walk on water," he said.

Berrettini, who beat Ruud in the third round in New York two years ago, said the Norwegian had clearly upped his level.

"I think his return, definitely (has improved). Also his serve. He's able to mix it up," he told reporters. "He's more complete."

After being forced to miss the Australian Open when he rolled his ankle a day before the tournament, Ruud showed he can be a threat on hard courts when he reached the Miami final and Montreal semi-final this year.

"During Paris, something clicked, and I feel like I, this year, I have sort of figured out the better way how to play five sets and knowing that it's very different from playing best-of-three sets," said Ruud.

"Sometimes realising, or knowing, that you can sort of let one set go every once in a while to save some energy for the rest of the sets."