Australian Open: Casper Ruud impresses. Grigor Dimitrov wins

Casper Ruud delivered a rock-solid performance against Albert Ramos-Vinolas

by Jovica Ilic
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Australian Open: Casper Ruud impresses. Grigor Dimitrov wins
© Daniel Pockett / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Casper Ruud came to Melbourne Park with five wins in the opening four Australian Open campaigns. The Norwegian will seek a much better run in the following two weeks, feeling confident about his game. Casper scored an impressive victory in the first round, beating Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in two hours and six minutes.

The Norwegian served at 54%, and no one could notice that, hitting 11 aces and defending all four break chances. Casper's return game worked like a charm, turning 52% of the return points into six breaks from 12 opportunities, controlling the pace and sailing over the top.

Ruud fired 42 winners and 26 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and leaving Ramos-Vinolas far behind in the shortest and mid-range exchanges. The 11th seed painted a backhand down the line winner in the encounter's opening game, holding at love and firing a forehand winner at 1-1 for another fine hold.

Alber wasted a game point in the fourth game and sprayed a backhand error to fall 3-1 behind. Ruud grabbed the fifth game after Ramos-Vinolas' backhand error and prolonged the next one. Casper landed a volley winner for a break point and converted it after Albert's error, moving 5-1 up and serving for the opener.

The Norwegian fired a powerful serve in game seven, holding at 15 and forging a 6-1 lead after 36 minutes. Casper kept the same pace at the beginning of the second set, striking a forehand winner and delivering a break at love.

Ruud struggled a bit on serve in the second game, seizing the sixth game point with a powerful forehand to cement the lead and move 2-0 in front. The Spaniard played another loose service game, defending three break chances and holding with a service winner to end his downfall.

The Norwegian painted another forehand winner in the fourth game for a hold at love before facing a challenge at 3-2. Ruud played against three break points and denied them with three winners. The 11th seed strikes a forehand winner on a game point, holding in style for 4-2.

Grigor Dimitrov, Australian Open 2024© Daniel Pockett / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

A left-hander denied a break point in game seven, holding and remaining within one break deficit. Ramos-Vinolas served to stay in the set at 3-5 and faced three set points after Ruud's backhand crosscourt winner.

The Norwegian painted a forehand winner on the first, moving two sets to love in front after an hour and 25 minutes. Ramos-Vinolas held after deuces in the second game of the third set, and Ruud fired an ace in the next one for a hold at love and 2-1.

Albert squandered a game point in game four and got broken after a forced error. The 11th seed closed the fifth game with an unreturned serve and broke his rival at love a few minutes later for a 5-1 advantage. Ruud served for the victory in game seven and offered Ramos-Vinolas a break chance.

He denied it with a cracking forehand down the line winner and fired another for a match point. The Norwegian converted it with a volley winner at the net, wrapping up an impressive performance and moving into the second round.

Casper Ruud and Grigor Dimitrov passed their first tests in Melbourne.

The former semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov is another dangerous player from outside the top-10. Grigor faced Marton Fucsovics in the first round and came from a set down in a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 victory in three hours and 27 minutes.

Dimitrov grabbed 15 points more than Fucsovics, losing serve three times and responding with five breaks, four in sets two and four. They collected over 100 unforced errors, and the Bulgarian hit more winners. Also, Grigor's first serve worked like a charm, securing the win in that segment.

Dimitrov forged the crucial advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, with nothing separating them in the mid-range and most extended ones. Marton made a flying start, breaking Grigor at love in the encounter's first game and holding at love in game two with a booming serve.

With nothing working his way, Dimitrov offered his rival two more break points in the third game. Hearing the alarm bells, Grigor denied them with winners and held with a powerful serve for 1-2.

Casper Ruud, Australian Open 2024© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Bulgarian grabbed the fifth game at love and earned two break points in the next one.

The Hungarian saved them and drew his rival's mistake, holding for a 4-2 lead. Grigor played more loose strokes in the seventh game, experiencing a break at love and falling 5-2 behind. Marton squandered two set points on serve in the eighth game and fell on the fifth break point, allowing Grigor to prolong the set.

Dimitrov secured the ninth game with a service winner before Fucsovics clinched the next one with a powerful serve for 6-4 after 49 minutes. The better-ranked player sprayed a backhand error at 1-1 in the second set, finding himself further behind.

Grigor pulled the break back in the next game, erasing the deficit and pushing strong on the return at 3-2. Dimitrov seized the fifth break point after a deep return, moving in front and holding at love in the next one for 5-2.

The 13th seed fired a service winner in game nine, wrapping up the set and leveling the overall score after an hour and 37 minutes. The third set offered the biggest drama, lasting over 70 minutes. Marton denied four break points in the fifth game, landing a service winner for 3-2.

Dimitrov experienced issues on serve in the eighth game, denying two break points with winners and holding for 4-4. Fucsovics saved a break point with a forehand winner in the ninth game, and they served well to introduce a tie break.

Grigor moved 4-1 up after the rival's forehand mistake and hit a service winner for five set points. The Bulgarian seized the first, moving two sets to one in front after two hours and 49 minutes. Dimitrov saved a break point in the first game of the fourth set and served well in the remaining ones.

The Bulgarian broke the struggling rival in game four and landed a forehand winner in the next one for 4-1. Fucsovics barely moved, and Dimitrov held at love in game seven to open a 5-2 gap. Marton served to stay in the match in game eight and netted a forehand to propel Grigor over the finish line.

Casper Ruud Grigor Dimitrov Albert Ramos-Vinolas
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