Ruud Battles Back To Reach Buenos Aires Final
Eighth seed Casper Ruud was three points from defeat on Saturday at the Argentina Open, but reached the final in Buenos Aires by winning 10 of the last 11 games in a remarkable 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 comeback against home favourite Juan Ignacio Londero.
The 21-year-old Norwegian is through to his second tour-level final and moves closer to his first ATP Tour title, having finished runner-up last April in Houston (l. to Garin). Ruud started this year by scoring his first two wins over Top 20 players, defeating John Isner and Fabio Fognini while representing Norway at the inaugural ATP Cup. Currently at a career-high No. 45 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, he is projected to crack the Top 40 on Monday.
Londero started strongly in the opening set, breaking Ruud early at 1-1 with an aggressive forehand approach. The Argentine remained dominant in his service games, taking 20 of 27 points and cracking a backhand winner on set point.
He continued to apply pressure to Ruud in the second set. Londero kept his shots within inches of the baseline during rallies, drawing a backhand error from his opponent at 2-2 for another break of serve.
But as the Argentine served for the match at 5-4, the prospect of another ATP Tour final on home soil became too much and nerves took over. Londero dropped serve with three forehand errors and a wild miss on an overhead smash. He was was broken to love two games later as Ruud levelled the match with a backhand return winner.
Sensing his opportunity, Ruud raised his level in the decider and raced to victory after two hours and 13 minutes.
Awaiting him in the final is Portuguese lucky loser Pedro Sousa, who advanced when top-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman withdrew due to a left leg injury. The 31-year-old Sousa, No. 145 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, hadn’t reached a tour-level quarter-final before this week.
“It means a lot to me,” Sousa said. “Last year was not as good as I was expecting and I started this year with some problems, but I managed to change those things and started to play well this week. I got the lucky loser spot, took my chance and am enjoying every time I’m playing in this tournament. Hopefully I can do a good job tomorrow.”
Sousa becomes just the third Portuguese player to reach a tour-level final. Should he prevail on Sunday, he’ll join Joao Sousa as the only players from Portugal to lift an ATP Tour trophy.