The young Norwegian Casper Ruud had a breakthrough run in 2020, winning his first ATP title and cracking the top-30. Improving his hard-court game, Casper scored two top-20 wins at the ATP Cup and carried that form towards his beloved clay, lifting the first ATP trophy in Buenos Aires.
Casper lost another final in Santiago, worked hard during the coronavirus outbreak at home in Norway and returned stronger following the season restart. The Norwegian advanced into the semi-final in Rome, facing world no. 1 Novak Djokovic and pushing the Serb to the limits in the opening set before falling 7-5, 6-3.
It was Casper's second match against a 'Big 3' member, previously losing to Roger Federer at Roland Garros last year. Speaking about the greatest players in history, Casper said that all three of them appear to be two meters high due to the respect you have for them.
Ruud faced Federer in the Roland Garros third round last year, suffering a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 loss in two hours and 11 minutes, in what was Federer's 400th match at Majors. Roger suffered one break and converted five out of 12 chances, sailing through the opening two sets before saving one set point at 6-7 in the third set tie break to wrap up the triumph in straight sets.
The Swiss star fired 52 winners and 36 unforced errors, overpowering Ruud's 28-26 ratio and dictating the points in the way he wanted.
Casper Ruud praised Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic.
This September, Casper produced his best Masters 1000 result, defeating Karen Khachanov and Matteo Berrettini to find himself in Rome's last four.
The four-time champion Novak Djokovic prevailed against Ruud 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 11 minutes, saving two set points in the opener and sealing the deal in the second for the 52nd Masters 1000 final, leaving Rafael Nadal on 51.
Novak repelled seven out of eight break chances and earned three breaks to emerge at the top after a grueling battle with the first-time Masters 1000 semi-finalist. Djokovic hit 37 winners and 19 unforced errors, overpowering the rival's 26 winners and 29 unforced errors to seal the deal in straight sets.
"It was in Melbourne a few years ago, and then I remember that we sat in a large cafe where all the players sit to eat. When Federer came in, it was hushed and, everyone turned around. Now the legend is here! These three legends look taller than they might be.
They are probably about 1.85 meters, but it may seem that they are two meters because of the respect you have for them," Casper Ruud said.