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Preview: US Open: Karen Khachanov vs. Casper Ruud - prediction, head to head, tournament so far

Sports Mole previews Friday's US Open quarter-final between Karen Khachanov and Casper Ruud, including prediction, head-to-head record and their tournament so far.

With his sights still set on reaching the pinnacle of the ATP rankings, Norway's Casper Ruud continues his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title against Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals of the US Open on Friday evening at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Ruud defeated a woeful Matteo Berrettini in three sets during his quarter-final bout, while Khachanov came through a five-set classic with the fiery Nick Kyrgios.

Match preview

Karen Khachanov celebrates at the US Open on September 6, 2022© Reuters

Fans were promised a big-serving spectacle when the 6ft 6in Khachanov and the ever-powerful Kyrgios took to the court for their quarter-final battle, and with a total of 61 aces between them, the pair did not disappoint.

Thirty of those aces belonged to Khachanov, who was battling both the Wimbledon runner-up and the majority of the crowd on the Australian's side, but the 26-year-old focused on his game to prevail 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7[3] 6-4 - sealing it with a brilliant serve down the T that Kyrgios could not make strong contact on.

His opponent's racquet-smashing outburst after the match unsurprisingly made all the headlines, but Khachanov now has a first-ever Grand Slam semi-final to look forward to, and it has been a far from straightforward path for the Russian to get there.

Indeed, Khachanov has dropped at least one set in all of his five matches at Flushing Meadows so far this year, including against Jack Draper - who retired injured - but a top-10 place in the rankings could be his if he manages to get his hands on the trophy.

Showing true grit and determination in the face of adversity during all of his encounters so far, Khachanov demonstrated a far greater proficiency from second serves to Kyrgios - winning 64% compared to 47% for the Australian - but Ruud has already seen off one of the game's big servers.

Casper Ruud pictured at the US Open on September 6, 2022© Reuters

Attempting to break the Berrettini serve is usually a recipe for failure, with the Italian going into his clash with Ruud boasting the seventh-best win percentage of all ATP players on his first serve for the past year (77.5%).

However, a calm and collected Ruud watched his counterpart become the architect of his own downfall in their quarter-final, with Berrettini racking up the unforced error count early doors - his backhand was particularly off colour - and that abysmal start ended up proving costly.

Berrettini began to claw his way back into the contest after ceding the first five games to Ruud, who did not post a single ace on the day compared to the Italian's 13, but a 6-1 6-4 7-6[4] victory would get the job done for the 23-year-old, who impressed with a 75% first-serve win percentage.

Making Scandinavian history by reaching the final of the French Open earlier this year - only to lose to Rafael Nadal - Ruud has been no stranger to a tie-break in the US Open so far, but he admitted that he may have dropped a gear or two against Berrettini as unforced errors started to creep in late on.

In order to become world number one at the conclusion of the US Open, fifth-seed Ruud must battle his way to the showpiece event and better Carlos Alcaraz's performance at Flushing Meadows, and he prepares to meet Khachanov boasting the third-best record of deciding sets won in the past year with 76.5%, only behind Diego Schwartzman and Filip Krajinovic.

Tournament so far

Karen Khachanov:

First round: vs. Denis Kudla 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-2
Second round: vs. Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-4
Third round: vs. Jack Draper 6-3 4-6 6-5 (Retired)
Round of 16: vs. Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 6-3 6-1 4-6 6-3
Quarter-final: vs. Nick Kyrgios 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7[3] 6-4

Casper Ruud:

First round: vs. Kyle Edmund 6-3 7-5 6-2
Second round: vs. Tim van Rijthoven 6-7[4] 6-4 6-4 6-4
Third round: vs. Tommy Paul 7-6[3] 6-7[5] 7-6[2] 5-7 6-0
Round of 16: Corentin Moutet 6-1 6-2 6-7[4] 6-2
Quarter-final: vs. Matteo Berrettini 6-1 6-4 7-6[4]

Head To Head

Italian Open (2020) - First round: Ruud def. Khachanov 6-3 3-6 6-1

Khachanov and Ruud have only ever met once before on the ATP Tour, with the Norwegian claiming a 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory in the first round of the 2020 Italian Open.

Coincidentally, Ruud also defeated Berrettini in the quarter-finals of that tournament before falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semis, and this will mark the inaugural meeting between the Norwegian and Khachanov on hard courts.

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We say: Ruud in five sets

Credit where credit is due for Ruud's ever-menacing forehand and ability to keep Berrettini at bay when the Italian was managing to find his feet again, but the Norwegian was undeniably helped by his counterpart's spate of errors, which the big-serving Khachanov should not match.

Targeting Berrettini's backhand was a recipe for success for Ruud in the last eight, but Khachanov pulled out some neat shots on that side against Kyrgios, and this one could very well go the distance.

The Russian has had a bit less time to recover from his five-setter compared to Ruud's three-set battle, and we are backing the Norwegian to keep his hopes of Grand Slam glory and the world number one spot alive.

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Casper Ruud pictured at the US Open on September 6, 2022
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