Mats Wilander says the US Open could see something rare and ‘amazing’ should Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud meet in the men’s final.
Ruud plays Karen Khachanov in the semis whilst Alcaraz takes on Frances Tiafoe, and should they both come through them then they will directly battle it out for the world number one spot in Sunday’s final.
That means the US Open title, a maiden major and a place at the top of the world rankings would be available in a winner-takes-all scenario, and that does not happen often.
"The thing about number one is that it's very rare that we have a situation that's right in front of the whole world that one of them could become number one,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“To have Casper and Carlos Alcaraz make the final would be absolutely insane. And I bet you that hasn't happened since 1988 when Lendl and I played the finals of US Open and we fought for number one in the world.
“So number one, it usually happens when somebody's not playing or somebody’s injured or drops points, but it would be fantastic to have it in front of us. One more match each and it would be just incredible to have them fight it out at the US Open final for number one, that'd be amazing.
"It's interesting, Casper, will be number one in the world and that is absolutely massive for him. And Carlos Alcaraz being the youngest number one in the world ever would be massive. So, this is a good thing that's happening right now.
"We're very, very fortunate that Novak and Rafa are fighting about the other number one and below we have the real number ones and they're fighting it out in front of our eyes. Amazing."
There are those who believe that the world number one spot has less meaning right now given Novak Djokovic has essentially been unable to compete for it due to his vaccination stance.
Wilander, though, says it will always be a huge deal in tennis no matter what circumstances surround, especially for the players – even if Grand Slam titles are more coveted.
"You definitely strive to be the best player that you can be on every day and on any given day,” he explained. “So that's what the number one ranking is to me - it's just the best player that's the one that's most consistent, that has the least dips and he most probably will have a few ups that are really high and that's how you become number one.
"Then you have winning Grand Slam tournaments which is completely different, there's a different goal, it's a different achievement. If you had a choice between the two I think most players would most probably say they’d rather take a Grand Slam singles victory rather than being number one.”
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