March 29, 2023

Casper Ruud delivered a ruthless semi-final display on Saturday night at the Nitto ATP Finals, where the third-seeded Norwegian dispatched Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 in Turin to set a championship match clash against Novak Djokovic.

Ruud struck the ball with consistency and power and was clinical at key moments as he converted four of four break points to cruise to a comfortable victory at the Pala Alpitour. The only blip for the Buenos Aires, Geneva and Gstaad champion came at 5-2 in the second set, when he dropped his serve when serving for the match, but he held firm to seal his win in just 69 minutes.

Rublev had expertly maintained his focus to rally to a crucial three-set round-robin victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday night, but the sixth seed was unable to deliver a repeat performance against the rock-solid Norwegian as Ruud raced into the final on just his second Nitto ATP Finals appearance.

Ruud will be the first Scandinavian to contest a Nitto ATP Finals championship match since Sweden’s Stefan Edberg in 1990. Should he defeat Djokovic and clinch the title, the 23-year-old will pass Rafael Nadal to end the year as No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

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Ruud and Rublev appeared set for a hard-fought contest after some hard-hitting rallies in the early stages at the Pala Alpitour, but Rublev made a series of errors from 40/15 to hand Ruud a break in the fifth game. The Norwegian then took firm control, reeling off seven more games in a row to move within two of a milestone victory.

A late surge from Rublev, during which he recovered from 1-5 to 4-5, proved too little, too late, with his 23 unforced errors the defining statistic of his loss. In contrast, Ruud made just eight, while the Norwegian also hitting 20 winners en route to his 51st tour-level victory of the season.

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