Casper Ruud has revealed he thought there might be a chance he would not reach another Grand Slam final after he beat Karen Khachanov in the US Open semi-finals.
Ruud played some of his best tennis as he won 7-6(5) 6-2 5-7 6-2 over Khachanov, including a dominant second set where he won 100 per cent of the points on his own serve.
The Norwegian will play his second major final after being runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open earlier this year.
“After Roland-Garros I had extremely positive feelings and a lot of good things were happening in my life,” Ruud told Eurosport’s Mats Wilander after the match.
“But at the same time, I was able to think ‘this is a great result, but it might not ever come again’.
“Grand Slam finals don’t come easy but I, of course, tried to stay humble, kept working hard and to be back in a final four months later, it seems a little surreal.”
Ruud appeared to be on course for a straight-sets win, but Khachanov came back in a close third set, breaking the fifth seed in the final game.
Despite losing the set, Ruud feels his level didn’t drop too much compared to the rest of the game.
“I felt like I didn’t do too much wrong in the third set,” explained Ruud. “Karen was serving great, he was hitting very good spots with his serves.
“I didn’t get too many rallies to play against him on his serve, and then when you’re 5-6, serving to stay in the set, you get a little nervous and all these things so it was a bit of a sloppy game.
“But I knew I was still leading 2-1 [in sets] and I was able to get a couple more returns back and played better after my returns in the fourth set again. So I’m very happy with that.”
Ruud will face Carlos Alcaraz or Frances Tiafoe in the final and will become the new world No. 1 should the Spaniard lose his semi-final.
If Alcaraz reaches the final, the winner of the US Open will replace Daniil Medvedev at the top of the ATP rankings.
Asked if he was going to watch the match, Ruud said: “Yes, I will watch, of course. This was probably the biggest match of mine and Karen’s career, and for Carlos and Frances it’s going to be the same.
“Of course, today there will be a lot of tension and nerves, but hopefully also another good level of tennis and I think the crowd can get me excited for a very fun and interesting match. And I look forward to watching it myself.”