In Review: Casper Ruud Breakout Season

In Review: Casper Ruud Breakout Season Photo: TT
Casper Ruud winning a point against Cameron Norrie during the final match of the San Diego Open. Oct. 3, 2021. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Derrick Tuskan.

The Norwegian has become the first man to capture five titles from five tour-level finals in 2021. An impressive run, which has led him to break into the Top 10 in the ATP rankings.

On Sunday, Casper Ruud claimed his first title on hard courts by defeating Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the San Diego Open championship match, consolidating his breakout season.

In his on-court interview, he commented: “It’s a fun thing to say it, but obviously Daniil and Novak have bigger titles, so I wouldn’t mind switching up with them if I had an opportunity to switch five 250s to three Slams and a 250 Novak has. It’s a bit higher level, but that’s fine. I think that’s more impressive obviously than five 250s, but I will take it.”

The 22-year-old has brought his A-game to court, enjoying a flawless campaign in clay surfaces throughout the season, successfully earning his maiden crown on hard courts in addition.

The highest-ranked player and first ATP Tour champion from Norway prepares to play at Indian Wells as a main draw player. He received a bye as a seeded player in the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, to be held from October 7th to 17th.

Ruud is also in contention to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals - currently ranked No. 8 - to be staged at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, from November 14th to 21st.

BREAKING GROUNDS ON HIS BREAKOUT SEASON

A perfect record of five titles from five finals does not tell the whole story about Ruud’s performance this year.

The results began early in the 2021 season, advancing into the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time.

During the European clay-court swing, the World No. 10 went strength from strength, elevating his game to the next level.

Continuing his run of form, he reached three consecutive semifinals including, Monte-Carlo, Munich, and Madrid, where he outlasted World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round.

En route to his maiden semifinal appearance in Monte-Carlo, Ruud moved past Diego Schwartzman, Pablo Carreno Busta, and 2019 champion Fabio Fognini before facing Andrey Rublev in the last four - a match he lost in straight sets 3-6, 5-7.

At the Gonet Geneva Open, he captured the first ATP title of the season by prevailing over Denis Shapovalov 7-6(6), 6-4, only dropping one set in the process.

A week later, Ruud was ready to play at Roland-Garros, reaching the third round for the third year in a row, falling to Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after a five-set thriller.

In Austria, he completed a dream three weeks run, becoming the first player since Andy Murray in 2011 to win three tournaments in three consecutive weeks.

The Oslo native edged Argentina’s Federico Coria, Frenchman Hugo Gaston, and Spaniard Pedro Martinez in Bastad (Nordea Open), Gstaad (Swiss Open), and the Generali Open in Kitzbhel, Austria, respectively.

After the match in Austria, he said: “I am shaking all over my body. It feels amazing. I was very nervous at the end. I knew what I was playing for three in a row, is something special.

I’m just very excited and happy that these three weeks are over and that I won all of them.”

Last month, continuing his winning streak, he helped Team Europe securing a fourth Laver Cup trophy at the TD Garden in Boston.

The team, which featured a stellar lineup, reunited Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Rublev, Matteo Berrettini, Daniil Medvedev, and Ruud, making a successful debut at the prestigious competition.

Team Europe captain, Bjorn Borg, remarked: “They are going to play against each other for so many times [on tour], finals, matches, it’s going to hurt, they are going to have joy.

Adding: “But to put them together, I think in a way they get a better relationship with each other, they have fun, but still they are going to go back to tournaments. So for them, I think it’s a good thing.”

In 2020, Ruud lifted his first trophy on tour at the Argentina Open.

UP TO NEW CHALLENGES

The son of former ATP player Christian Ruud arrives in Indian Wells to play at the 44th edition of the BNP Paribas Open as a potential champion aiming to win his first ATP Masters 1000 crown.

Moreover, Norway’s number one racquet knows all points earned at the event could play a crucial role in his bid to moving up in the Race to Turin.

His next Turin challenger, 2021 Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner ranked ninth and ten, respectively, are also in contention to grab a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals.

The Finals set the season’s grand finale, featuring the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and a journalist passionate about sports, particularly motorsport, tennis, and soccer

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