Ruud holds out Humbert to set Djokovic SF

Norwegian is aiming for first ATP Masters 1000 title
April 12, 2024
Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Casper Ruud defeats Ugo Humbert on Friday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. By ATP Staff

Casper Ruud recovered from a second-set slump Friday to book his spot in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-finals.

Despite flying out of the blocks to a set-and-a-break lead, the eighth seed needed three sets to tame Frenchman Ugo Humbert 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.

Aiming for his first title since last year’s ATP 250 in Estoril and maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown, Ruud has earned back-to-back wins against fellow Top 15 players. After his 6-4, 6-2 thumping against 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz, Ruud improved to 2-3 in his Lexus ATP Head2Head series with Humbert to reach his second Monte-Carlo semi-final (2021).

“It was tough. It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth,” Ruud said. “I started great and I was up 6-3, 2-0 after 50 minutes. I was playing really good tennis and then kind of stumbled a bit. I think I lost maybe 10 points in a row at one point there, so I had to try and stop the bleeding. I wasn’t able to in the second set, but third set I was a bit fortunate I got the break early and then saved a few break points, God knows how, but luckily they landed inside the lines."

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Ruud troubled Humbert with his weight of shot and drew the World No. 15 in the PIF ATP Rankings into tempting openings, which then created unforced errors from the 25-year-old.

Humbert won four consecutive games from 0-2 in the second set, playing with more aggression and frequently changing direction to extend the match. But it was Ruud’s forehand consistency that held off Humbert’s late charge as the Norwegian advanced after two hours, five minutes.

“It’s tough, Ugo is playing with confidence,” Ruud said. “Maybe not the guy you would think of as a typical clay-court player, but he plays so aggressive, returns well, plays deep. As long as you have a lot of depth on clay, you are doing a lot of damage. In the second set, he was playing fantastic. With his backhand, he can get winners down-the-line, cross and take it early. It stressed me, so very happy I was able to come through.”

Ruud, 25, will next look for his maiden win against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is 5-0 against the 10-time tour-level titlist. Their previous meeting came in last year's Roland Garros final, which Djokovic won in straight sets.

“I’m going to do my best, kind of David versus Goliath,” Ruud said. “I’m going to play loose, happy to have some Norwegian friends that are going to come and hopefully cheer me on and I’m going to enjoy the match.”

Humbert was aiming for his first Masters 1000 semi-final appearance. Already a champion in Marseille and Dubai this season, Humbert has moved two places this week to a career-high No. 13 in the PIF ATP Live Rankings.

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