© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Casper Ruud moves into his second clay Masters 1000 semifinal in a row.

Ruud Eases Past Fognini To Reach SF

Ruud awaits the winner of Rublev and Nadal

Casper Ruud moved into the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Fabio Fognini on Friday.

Though Fognini was playing the better tennis in the first set, he faltered at the most important moments, getting broken at 4-5 to lose the opening set after squandering a 40/15 lead. Ruud took advantage of his opportunities by really going for his shots during break-point chances, especially from his forehand wing (he converted 3/7 to Fognini's 1/7). 

Errors began to cost the Italian, and he would lose momentum quickly. Ruud stayed calm to weather the Fognini storm and grabbed an early break at love in the second set, leaping ahead 3-0.

“It was a tough match today. It has been a great week for me so far. I have beaten good players and today was a very big challenge,” Ruud said in his post-match interview. “Fabio is the defending champion here and he plays very tricky. He can hit winners from anywhere and you really need to be ready for anything to come at you. I was happy with the way I was able to stay steady and make him play an extra ball here and there to force an error out of his play. It’s a nice feeling to be in the semi-finals.”

The 22-year-old Norwegian used his serve and first-strike forehand to take control of points, and with Fognini standing extremely far back on returns it made it easier for Ruud to pull him off the court early in rallies. Ruud even felt comfortable enough to spice things up with a few drop shots, throwing off Fognini’s rhythm further.  

"He forces you to [commit] some more errors than maybe I wanted to play because he can fire off from both sides, forehands, backhands, down the line, drop shots,” Ruud said. “You really need to be on your toes and ready for anything to come. I think we have both played better tennis in our lives than this match but, at the end of the day, I was able to hit a couple more extra balls to force the errors out of his racquet and also I stepped on some big points. That was the key for the win today.”

Though Fognini mentally settled back in long enough to even out the match, he played another loose service game at 3-4, losing a 40/15 lead once more with Ruud ripping a series of huge forehands capped off with a crosscourt beauty to get to serve out the match. A Fognini net cord sailed out on the first match point to put Ruud into his second Masters 1000 semi-final (Rome 2020). 

Ruud will face Andrey Rublev for a place in the championship match. The Russian stunned 11-time champion Rafael Nadal 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to reach his second straight Masters 1000 semi-final. Rublev holds a 3-0 ATP Head2Head record against Ruud, which includes back-to-back clay-court wins at the Hamburg European Open in 2019 and 2020.

“I've gained good confidence from this week [and] I've beaten good players,” Ruud said. “I have to try to find a way to believe that I can win. Tomorrow there has to be one winner of the match, and hopefully it can be me. I will try to relax and get a lot of energy for tomorrow and think that it's a little bit now or never.”