Ruud & Garin: The 2020 Clay Leaders
Young talents own a combined 28 wins and three titles on clay this year
After a shortened European clay swing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the ATP Tour’s top stars are entering Roland Garros with less match practice than usual on the dirt.
With less clay results to analyse, many fans will find it more difficult to predict results in the early rounds in Paris. But two players have still managed to make their mark on the surface with regular success this year.
Casper Ruud and Cristian Garin occupy the top two spots in the 2020 clay wins list heading into Roland Garros. The pair were the standout performers during the ‘Golden Swing’ in February and have also shown great form on the surface in Europe, prior to their journeys to Paris.
2020 Clay Titles: Buenos Aires
2020 Win/Loss On Clay: 15-4
The 21-year-old owns more ATP Tour victories on clay than any other player this year. In his opening event of the year on the surface, Ruud made history by becoming the first Norwegian to capture an ATP Tour title at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires. Ruud dropped just one set across five matches at the ATP 250, defeating Dusan Lajovic and Juan Ignacio Londero en route to the trophy.
Two weeks later, Ruud reached another championship match on clay in Santiago. The Oslo native came within a set of the trophy, but fell in three sets to #NextGenATP Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild.
Ruud made an impressive return to clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia this month. The 6’0” right-hander, who trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca, advanced to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in the Italian capital. Ruud recorded wins against Karen Khachanov, Lorenzo Sonego, Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini, before losing in straight-sets to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.
Last week, Ruud continued his momentum by reaching his fourth semi-final in five clay events this year. The Buenos Aires champion earned three victories, including a straight-sets win against Fabio Fognini to become the first player to reach 15 clay wins on the ATP Tour this year.
Following his run in Hamburg, Ruud climbed to a career-high No. 25 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. As the 28th seed at Roland Garros, Ruud will face Yuichi Sugita in the first round at Roland Garros. Ruud could face third seed and two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem in the third round.
2020 Clay Titles: Cordoba, Rio de Janeiro
2020 Win/Loss On Clay 13-3
No player started the year with a better record on clay than Garin. The Chilean won his opening 10 matches on the dirt this year, which included title runs at the Cordoba Open and Rio Open presented by Claro.
During his 10-match win streak, Garin’s fighting quality was clear to see. The 24-year-old recovered from a set down on five occasions and survived two final-set tie-breaks to keep his run alive. Garin’s victory in Rio de Janeiro was the biggest win of his career, adding an ATP 500 trophy to his collection of three ATP 250 crowns. All four of Garin’s tournament wins have come on clay.
After losing to Borna Coric in the first round in Rome, Garin returned to his best level in Hamburg. The Santiago-born star eliminated Kei Nishikori in straight sets and posted wins against Kitzbühel runner-up Yannick Hanfmann and Alexander Bublik to reach his third semi-final of the year. In the last four, Garin pushed World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas to three sets.
Following his run in Hamburg, Garin re-entered the Top 20 in the FedEx ATP Rankings at No. 19. The four-time ATP Tour titlist, seeded 20th in Paris, will face Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round at Roland Garros. Garin is located in top quarter of the draw, headlined by Novak Djokovic, and could meet 15th seed Karen Khachanov in the third round.