Two Things at 3-3 in the 3rd

Although Alcaraz and Ruud have similar total time on court during the fortnight, the Spaniard comes into this match with a lot of difficult hours fresh in his legs, so he, naturally, has some of that weighing on his chances here despite being an overwhelming favorite at the start.

You see this fatigue in his play so far today; fatigue factors into one’s behavior in many ways, not just physically.

So, first, he’s tired, for sure.

But secondly, and this goes along with his time-on-court, he has a bit of a choke in his bag. I know this is really tough to say about a nineteen year-old who has won two Masters this year and is in the US Open final as we speak. But there is some of this lack of clutch throughout the last few rounds, from Cilic through to this match (I didn’t watch much of his earlier rounds).

Best-of-five hides some of this because there’s just so much tennis and the ebbs and flows of quality/efficiency seem a very acceptable reality and dynamic in matches like this.

Relating to his time on court, he has allowed some of these matches to become extended unnecessarily. That’s just a fact. There are several examples of this and though the idea that he is lacking clutch given his age and success so far in his tennis life seems almost fool-hardy on my part, I would simply remind one with such an overly defensive thought that he is so much more talented than almost all of these opponents.

Either way, he’s now in the fight of his young tennis life, playing against someone who does not choke, but simply plays a very steady form of tennis, using practical strategy to win. Ruud is Nadal-like. Alcaraz is Djokovic-like, both in more ways than one.

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