ATP Rome: Casper Ruud edges Francisco Cerundolo and sets Rune clash
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 1383
Casper Ruud entered the Rome Masters with a mediocre 11-9 score in 2023, staying positive following the Estoril title. The Norwegian had collected two wins in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before finding his form at Foro Italico and advancing into the semi-final.
Casper is through to his third consecutive Rome Masters semi-final following a hard-fought 7-6, 6-4 victory over Francisco Cerundolo in two hours and five minutes. Ruud won ten points more than his rival and prevailed in the crucial moments to avoid a decider and set the semi-final clash against Holger Rune.
Casper hit 15 winners and 28 unforced errors, struggling from his forehand but doing enough to emerge at the top. Cerundolo was the more aggressive player, firing 30 winners and 47 unforced errors after missing from both wings.
Ruud built the advantage in the shortest range up t four strokes, hitting more efficiently with his first groundstroke. The Norwegian served well and defended two out of four break points.
Casper Ruud defeated Francisco Cerundolo in straight sets in Rome.
He turned 43% of the return points into 14 break opportunities, converting only three and missing a chance to seal the deal earlier. The better-ranked player was off to a flying start, serving well and keeping the pressure on the other side.
Cerundolo denied break points in the second game to avoid an early setback and struggled again at 1-2. The Argentine squandered game points and played a loose drop shot on the third break point to fall 3-1 behind. In the seventh game, Casper hit a wild forehand to suffer a break and bring the rival back to the positive side.
Francisco fought well in the eighth game, defending two break points and leveling the score at 4-4. They served well in the remaining four games to introduce a tie break and stayed neck and neck in the first nine points. Cerundolo placed a forehand long in the tenth point and offered his rival two set points.
Ruud seized the second after the rival's backhand error to wrap up the opener after 74 minutes of grueling tennis. Francisco made a fresh start in the second set and broke Casper in the second game for his first advantage.
The Norwegian pulled it back a few minutes later and held with a service winner in the next one to level the score at 2-2. Casper saved a break point in game six with a powerful serve and created three break chances in the next one.
Francisco saved them and held after the rival's loose forehand to open a 4-3 gap. The Argentine felt the pressure again at 4-4, offering the Norwegian three break points and sending a forehand wide on the third to fall 5-4 behind.
Ruud served for the victory in game ten and fired a service winner on the second match point to emerge at the top and set the semi-final clash against his "neighbor" Holger Rune.