Laver Cup: Ruud gets Team Europe’s first points with win over Paul

Casper Ruud has prevailed over Team World’s Tommy Paul 7-6 (6), 6-2, getting Team Europe’s first points of the 2023 Laver Cup

Casper Ruud Laver Cup 2023 Casper Ruud Laver Cup 2023 – © DARRYL DYCK/AP/SIPA

It’s taken six matches, but Team Europe are finally on the board in the 2023 Laver Cup. With Casper Ruud defeating Tommy Paul 7-6 (6), 6-2, Team World’s lead has been reduced to 6-2, thanks to double points for all matches played on day two.

After several of the earlier clashes this Laver Cup saw tight moments falling the way of Team World, it was Team Europe’s chance to have the better of a close match, with Ruud saving a set point en route to his straight sets victory over Paul.

“[I was] fortunate it went my way, bit of a steal maybe in the tiebreak,” said Ruud after his victory. “That’s Laver Cup. Even though World are up 6-2, there have been some close calls. Hopefully this can be somewhat of a momentum shift for us now.”

Ruud steals back and forth first set

While Casper Ruud may have counted himself fortunate to win the opening set eventually, the Norwegian had the better of the exchange early on, racing out to a 4-1 lead over Tommy Paul in the second match of the day.

Both players began reasonably tight, with some poor shot selection by Paul seeing a 15-30 opportunity get away early on Ruud’s serve. Unforced errors led to a Paul break, and just 20 minutes into the match, it looked as though the world No 9 would run away with the set.

However, Paul began to find his range, getting good reward from flattening out his backhand down the line and generating more pace off the shot than Ruud was able to. The American seemed to be thriving in the team environment, soaking up advice from his teammates as he broke back and levelled the match at 4-4.

A string of love holds saw the first set head to a tiebreaker, with Ruud initially looking the more composed of the two—even cracking a smile when a fan called out, “Come on, Roger!” early in the breaker.

After getting up 2-0 quickly, Ruud then fell behind 3-2, before again surging back into the tiebreak to hold a 5-3 lead. Paul was resilient, however, winning three in a row to gain a set point at 6-5. It was seen off with a big serve from Ruud, with the Team Europe player himself winning three consecutive points to win the breaker 8-6.

No looking back as Ruud gets Team Europe on the board

The second set began similarly to the first, with Casper Ruud moving out to an early lead. This time, the Norwegian got up 2-0, and did not look back.

As the set developed, Ruud appeared to increase in confidence, blasting beautiful forehand returns off Paul’s second serve and securing an insurance break by going up a double break at 5-2. It wasn’t needed, as the 25-year-old held his serve to love in the next game, winning the match 7-6 (6), 6-2 to get Team Europe on the board in the 2023 Laver Cup.

“Game on, baby!” declared Ruud immediately after the victory, signalling that the contest is far from over this weekend.

“We’re young and we’re strong and we’re ready for the rest of the weekend.”

The three-time Grand Slam finalist was pleased with his level, declaring that he knew he needed to play one of his best matches of the year to get his team back on track.

“I’m very happy w the level, it was great out there. Time to play maybe the best match of the year and wasn’t far away. When Roger’s in the stand it’s extra special, you wanna deliver, you wanna play well.”

The victory takes Team Europe to within four points of Team World, with two more matches to come in the night session on day two of the Laver Cup, and the opportunity for the score to read 6-6 by the end of play.

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