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Casper Ruud qualifies for last four at ATP Finals with dramatic win over Taylor Fritz in Turin
Casper Ruud edged Taylor Fritz to book his spot in the semi-finals in Turin as the Green Group winner. Fritz will face Felix Auger-Aliassime for the final semi-final spot on Thursday at the ATP Finals.
Casper Ruud edged Taylor Fritz in a third-set tiebreak on Tuesday evening in Turin, paving his way to the top of the Green Group at the Nitto ATP Finals. The Norwegian, already a two-time Grand Slam finalist in 2022, notched a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) triumph over the American to ensure qualification for the semi-finals for the second consecutive season.
Ruud wins the Green Group outright and will face the second-place winner from the Red Group in semi-final action on Saturday.
Fritz, who falls to 1-1 on his ATP Finals debut, will face Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday, with the winner going through to the semi-finals.
Ruud – things went my way in the end
In his first career meeting with Fritz, Ruud was pushed to the brink. Both players served magnificently, surrendering one break apiece over the two hour and 11 minute contest.
There’s a lot at stake, of course, we were both playing to reach the semi-final and we know that in the back of our minds.— Casper Ruud
After they split the first two sets on the strength of a single break, neither player budged in the third, until Ruud weathered a late storm from the American to convert his third match point of the evening at the conclusion of the deciding tiebreak. Fritz, who gained qualification in Turin when Carlos Alcaraz withdrew with an abdominal injury, rallied from 5-1 down in the tiebreak to level at 6-all. But he lost his range from there, firing errors on the final two points to hand Ruud the well-deserved win.
“Fortunately for me, things went my way there in the end,” Ruud said on court after his 50th win of 2022. “You sort of think you have it when you’re 5-1 up in the tie break and then it turns around. Taylor played some great points, hit some incredible winners there to come back to 6-all, and I maybe hesitated a little bit when I had a 6-4 lead, but it’s normal.
“It’s normal, there’s a lot at stake, of course, we were both playing to reach the semi-final and we know that in the back of our minds.”
Ruud – movement is key on the fast courts
It’s no secret that defending is difficult on the fast-playing hard courts in Turin, which is why Ruud is so pleased with the way he is moving this week. The 24-year-old says it takes quickness to defend the court this week.
“I think my movements have been much better in recent weeks,” he said. “I feel like I’m doing better now than I’ve done in some months, so that feels good. Obviously you’ll face tougher moments and periods in your career where you’re a little bit heavier in the legs and they aren’t working, but here in Turin they’ve been working well – luckily. Anytime you feel like the movement is in the good place it gives you confidence knowing that you can reach maybe a couple extra balls and that you’re fast with the legs especially here on the fast indoor courts.”
Already winning the group is a pleasant surprise for Ruud
Having locked down first place in his group Ruud can relax during his match against Rafael Nadal on Thursday in Turin. It’s a luxury the Norwegian, who qualified for the semi-finals after his third match last year, didn’t expect to enjoy.
“I didn’t picture myself being in this position when this tournament started,” he said. “I will just try to take it as any other match but not risk any injuries, to put it this way. I’m gonna go full of course and get ready for Saturday but it’s gonna be nice knowing that I have some days now to really focus on Saturday and that I have already booked my ticket into the semi-final.
“Last year I think we played on Friday and I made it just in the last match so this is a different situation and I will try to take advantage of it.