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Casper Ruud earns last semifinal spot at ATP Finals

Casper Ruud of Norway looks up to the stands while playing Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during their round four match of the BNP Paribas Open, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Indian Wells, Calif.
Casper Ruud of Norway looks up to the stands while playing Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during their round four match of the BNP Paribas Open, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Indian Wells, Calif.

No. 8 seed Casper Ruud of Norway rallied to defeat No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) Friday to earn second place in the green group at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Italy.

Ruud advanced to the semifinals, where he’ll face another Russian, Daniil Medvedev, who is the defending champion at the season-ending event and went 3-0 in group play.

“I am just enjoying the moment,” Ruud said. “I am looking forward to (Saturday) already. It is going to be another tough battle, different kind of player from today, but one of the best in the world and he has proven himself as one of the best over the past two or three years.”

Top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia was already guaranteed the top spot in the green group, but he polished off his round-robin effort 3-0 as well Friday by taking down second alternate Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-2, 6-1. Djokovic will play German Alexander Zverev in the semis.

Ruud, 22, is by far the least experienced player of those still standing and the only one ranked outside the top three in world. But the Norwegian had a strong season and won five singles titles — including three events on clay in a row in July. He won his first non-clay title at the hard-court San Diego Open last month.

Ruud saved seven of 11 break points Friday while breaking Rublev’s serve three times in five chances. Both players smashed 14 aces. He trailed the third-set tiebreak 2-1 before ripping off four of the next five points and eventually winning on his second match point.

“The court is playing very fast and Andrey plays very fast,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “He rips the ball harder than anyone on the Tour and serves very well on his first serve. We all want to play under control and with initiative, but it is not easy against Rublev because he makes you run all the time and play defensively all the time. I knew I had to fight fire with fire. On the big points I think I played quite smartly.”

Djokovic hit five aces, converted five of 10 break points and won 21 of 26 first-serve points (80.8 percent) on his way to a simple victory that required just 66 minutes.

Norrie only entered the field after it began when Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas withdrew due to an elbow injury.

–Field Level Media