Alcaraz and Ruud continue ending of elite dominance
Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz picked up straight-set victories in their semi-finals in Miami, albeit in rather differing styles. Ruud despatched Francisco Cerundolo, ending the Argentine's shock run in the tournament, while Alcaraz needed two tiebreaks to get the better of Hubert Hurkacz. On a side note, it's refreshing to see new names in the latter stages of major tournaments, and it does look like the historical dominance of the elite four on the men's tour over the last 10-15 years is coming to an end.
Both players with impressive numbers this season
Both players have dropped a solitary set in the tournament so far, although Alcaraz has come the closest to the exit door, requiring a final set tiebreak against Miomir Kecmanovic in the semi-final. Having said that, the impressive nature of Alcaraz's season so far - he's lost just twice all season, once against Rafa Nadal several weeks ago at Indian Wells, and a final set tiebreak loss to Matteo Berrettini at the Australian Open - has seen speculation that he's a real contender for the French Open this year, and beyond, with the Spaniard looking like the real deal not just right now, but for many years to come.
However, Ruud has impressed this season too, losing just once in main tour matches, against Nick Kyrgios at Indian Wells, albeit against probably a slightly lower calibre of opposition. Numbers-wise, there's not a million miles between the duo overall this season, with Ruud holding serve around 3% more on hard court in 2022, but Alcaraz breaking opposition's serve around 5% more, impressively doing so just shy of 35% of the time.
Alcaraz having issues breaking in last couple of matches
The market has certainly bought the hype surrounding Alcaraz, pricing him up at 1.392/5 to lift the trophy tonight. While I certainly buy the hype too - I've mentioned numerous times on this column how he has the potential to be a future multiple Grand Slam winner/number one - I can't help thinking this price is short against another improving opponent in Ruud who has very good numbers too across surfaces.
In the last two matches, we've seen signs of some potential difficulty for Alcaraz in terms of winning easily. He's played a lot of matches at a high level over the last month - a total of 11 including one match in the Davis Cup - and he's only created five break points (converting two) across the his last two wins.
Considering this, the even money with the Sportsbook on Ruud +3.5 games appears to make a lot of logical sense in terms of a recommendation.
Not only do I think the market price on Alcaraz is a bit short, but those struggles to break opposition of late aren't particularly likely to reverse against a very strong server in Ruud. I'm anticipating a tight match with few break point chances.
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