Casper Ruud – Taylor Fritz 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6)
Group match, Nitto ATP Finals 2022
At one point in the third set, Casper Ruud had break point against Taylor Fritz, and fired a forehand down the line against a net rushing Fritz. The American stretched and jumped to his left, and rolled around on the court as he landed, clearly unable to hit the next ball. He didn’t have to. The backhand volley sailed cross court, out of reach for Ruud.
Fritz held, and made his way to a third set tie-break. The winner would be guaranteed a spot in the semifinals. Ruud had been the better player in the third set, but momentum like that can swing in a tie-break, the weaker player loosening up.
That did not happen. Ruud got the upper hand, and kept his nerve even when he tightened a bit towards the end. Ruud’s backhand has been solid so far, and when the opponents fail to break it down, they seem a bit lost, and get dragged down by the forehands and weight of CR’s forehand.
It’s amazing how Ruud has come to life in this event, given how modest his last matches before Turin have been. I will never again underestimate Casper Ruud’s ability to turn on the switch for a big tournament. He has now beaten two of the best hard courters in the world (Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz) on an indoor hard court.
Ruud will finish first or second in his group, depending on the outcome of the last matches: Ruud faces an already eliminated Nadal (who has yet to win this event!), while Auger-Aliassime and Fritz battle it out for the last spot. I think Ruud will do all he can to avoid Djokovic in the semifinals, and by the looks of the first matches, Djokovic will win his group. So beating Nadal should be a top priority for Ruud, because then he will avoid Djokovic in the semis.
(Why is this Norwegian guy writing in English? At a party this weekend, a friend and fanatical tennisbloggen.net fan suggested I should write in English in order to conquer the world or something like that. (Memories are slightly fuzzy.) I have not written English texts of any substance or length since the Clinton presidency, but will write in English for the rest of 2022 just for the fun of it and see if my numbers go through the roof. Please excuse my rusty grammar and spelling. If I run out of steam and/or receive loads of online fury from Norwegian language activists, I will switch to Norwegian and claim the blog was hijacked by forces outside my control.)