Casper Ruud has been one of the biggest tennis prospects from Scandinavia in the last couple of years and he made a name for himself in Rio de Janeiro last year when he reached the semi-final in only his third ATP tournament.
In addition, Casper has won the first Challenger tournament he has played, back in Seville in 2016, and he almost reached the Top 100 in June 2017. His results were not that good in the rest of the last season but he has been on the comeback trail recently, losing in the final of Francavilla Challenger and winning a match at ATP 250 event in Munich before losing to Roberto Bautista Agut.
Now, Casper will compete in his third Challenger final in Braga after a commanding 6-3 6-2 win over another youngster Alex de Minaur in just 66 minutes. Alex defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-final but he couldn’t match Ruud’s pace, with the Norwegian dominating on both the serve and return.
Casper has lost just 13 points in nine service games, saving both break points he faced, and he won 45% of the points in Alex’s games to break him three times from seven opportunities that he created. Ruud broke de Minaur’s resistance in the closing stages of the opening set and at the start of the second, rattling off seven games in a row from 3-3 in the opening set to race towards the finish line and the place in the final.
Casper brought the opening game home with a solid forehand attack and Alex was off to a good start as well, firing a service winner in game two to get his name on the scoreboard. The Aussie saved a break point in game four and they both closed the next two games with forehand winners, staying neck and neck in the first part of the set.
A service winner sent the Norwegian 4-3 in front and he drew first blood in game eight when Alex sent a forehand long and he ruled the court from the baseline, holding at love in the following game to grab the opener 6-3.
De Minaur lost the ground and he got broken at the start of the second set as well when Casper forced an error from him, but he had a chance to pull it back in the following game. Ruud saved a break point with a forehand winner and another one with a service winner to keep his serve intact and he would not face further troubles in his service games by the end of the match.
Alex sprayed a backhand error in game three to drop serve again and that sealed his fate in this match, especially after a service winner that sent the Norwegian 4-0 in front. Another good serve gave Casper a 5-1 advantage and he closed the match in game eight after another forced error from de Minaur who couldn’t stay in touch with his opponent in the baseline rallies.
Casper would face Pedro Sousa in the title match and he is certainly capable of winning the title if he repeats this kind of performance. ALSO READ: ATP ANALYSIS: Roger Federer blasts 51 winners vs Mirnyi in Hamburg 2002 .