The 22-year-old Casper Ruud has been one of the most consistent players on Tour on clay in the last couple of years. The young Norwegian has most wins on the slowest surface since the start of the previous season, and he has lifted four ATP titles on dirt this year.
In the past three weeks, Casper was a player to beat in Bastad, Gstaad and Kitzbuhel, taking three titles and 750 points to boost his chances for a top-10 debut in the rest of the season. Casper has also joined Novak Djokovic at the top, with no one besides winning four ATP titles in 2021.
In the Kitzbuhel final, the Norwegian ousted Pedro Martinez 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and nine minutes, wrapping up the season's final ATP event on clay and becoming the first player since Andy Murray in 2011 with three ATP crowns in three consecutive weeks.
Ruud and Martinez had to endure a couple of rain delays, returning to the court for the second time late in the evening and finishing the encounter a couple of minutes after midnight.
Casper Ruud claimed three consecutive ATP titles in the past three weeks.
Casper got broken twice from as many chances offered to Martinez and erased that deficit with five breaks on his tally, starting all over in the decider to wrap up the crown.
The Norwegian produced four comfortable holds in the opener, and the Spaniard couldn't follow that pace. Casper grabbed the first advantage with a break in the fourth game when Pedro sprayed a forehand error. The Norwegian cemented the lead with a forehand winner in the next one and clinched the second break that pushed him 5-1 up.
Serving in game seven, Ruud held at 15 to seal the opener in style, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter. Players left the court after the second set's third game, and when they returned, they both served well until game ten when Ruud got broken at love to hand the set to the Spaniard.
Starting all over, the better-ranked player raced into a 5-1 lead in the decider following breaks in games three and five. Serving for the title at 5-2, Casper got broken following Martinez's forehand winner. He stayed on the court a bit longer before stealing the Spaniard's serve a few minutes later thanks to a lucky net cord winner that secured his fourth title of the season.