Rising Norwegian star Casper Ruud said he respects Novak Djokovic but he didn't want to be too respectful on the court against the Serb. Ruud fought well against world No. 1 Djokovic but couldn't pick up a surprise win as the Serb won 7-5 6-3 to make the Rome Masters final.
At 5-4 in the first set, Ruud served for the set and had two consecutive set points but faitled to convert as the Serb claimed back-to-back breaks to steal the opener. In the second set, Djokovic broke Ruud in the sixth game and then held on to his serve to collect a straight-set win.
“I did a good job going out there thinking it was not Djokovic on the other side. Of course, I respect him and the other great champions. You try not to have that mentality of being too afraid, too respectful for them," Ruud said after the match, per Tennis TourTalk.
"I went out and played a good beginning of the match, a good first set. … I was close to winning it with two set points, but once again, [Novak] showed why he’s such a good player – a good champion.
He’s always clutch on the big points,” said Ruud. “I had some other break points when he came up with some big serves and hit a couple of aces. I guess that’s why he’s so good and he has some more experience than I have”.
Djokovic spoke highly of Ruud before the match
After his quarterfinal win over Dominik Koepfer, Djokovic spoke positively of Ruud as he underlined he wouldn't take the Norwegian for granted. "I did watch a little bit of his match today before I got on the court.
It's going to be our first meeting," Djokovic said after his quarterfinal win. "As you said, you know, he's a clay court specialist. Obviously he's very good on different surfaces, but clay is where he feels most comfortable and where he had his best results.
"He's relatively young, as well. He's making his way up the ranking scale. It's really impressive to see him in semis, but at the same time, it's kind of expected, knowing how well he can play on this surface.
"He had a tough match today, well fought. Hopefully we can have a good match. I'm going to have to do my video analysis and homework with my coach, with my team, and get ready for that one."