Ruud Moves Into Madrid Semi-Finals Over Bublik
"It's a great feeling, it’s my third Masters 1000 semi-final, third in a row on clay," Ruud said. "I’m just playing the tennis of my life for the moment and I'm enjoying it."
In a tight first set Ruud broke Bublik at 6-5 by capatilising on his fourth set point. Ruud would then run away with the match in just 69 minutes. He's into his third ATP Masters 1000 clay-court semi-final (Rome and Monte-Carlo).
"This is the third time now; I hope that's the lucky charm," Ruud said. "The previous two times I lost to [Novak] Djokovic, then I lost to [Andrey] Rublev. Whoever it will be tomorrow will be at least a lower-ranked player. But they're both great players. I hope that I can try to take advantage of that."
In addition to three consecutive clay-court Masters 1000s semi-finals on clay dating back to Rome last year, Ruud has now reached three semi-finals from his past three outings (Monte-Carlo, Munich and Madrid).
"I’ve just had an unbelievable motivation to play the European clay swing and when we didn’t get to play it last year, I was very sad," Ruud said. "So I think I just have double motivation compared to last year."
Ruud becomes the seventh unseeded ATP player to reach the semi-finals in Madrid and will be aiming to become the first to make a final when he takes on the winner of Matteo Berrettini and Cristian Garin on Saturday.
He improves to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head Series against Bublik. The Kazakh hit 23 winners to Ruud’s 19, but Ruud missed far less, giving up just four unforced errors to Bublik’s 21.
Bublik tried to mix things up by serving-and-volleying and Ruud responded by forcing net errors and consistently making passing shots. With Bublik taking big risks, Ruud was able to stay patient and make the most of his chances.
"I guess I'm just enjoying it here in Madrid, playing good tennis," Ruud said. "Today was almost without any unforced errors. That's probably the biggest confidence boost you can give yourself for a big match tomorrow."
Ruud has yet to be broken and faced his first break point this week in the first set against Bublik.
"I tried to have the toss a little bit more in front, do a little bit more turning of my upper body on the serve, which are some small technical things. So far it's been working out well," Ruud said. "I only faced one break point through the whole tournament. That's not normal from my standards."
On Thursday, Ruud scored the biggest win of his career by upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas for his first Top 5 win. He started his campaign in Madrid with a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 22 and is guaranteed to crack the Top 20 next week.