Kecmanovic Serves Up Victory In Milan
Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic opened this year’s Next Gen ATP Finals in style on Tuesday, scoring a 4-3(5), 4-3(5), 4-2 win in a serving duel with Norwegian Casper Ruud in the first match of Group A in Milan.
“I’ve had some experience with this format, so I was prepared for it,” Kecmanovic said. “I served pretty well, so that got me through today. I was able to stay calm and play aggressively.
”We’ve known each other since we were 12. We play together a lot, played doubles with each other before. We’ve professionals and have gotten the hang of playing each other, but we’re still good friends off the court.”
Kecmanovic improved to 2-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Ruud. The 20-year-old has jumped more than 70 spots in the ATP Rankings this year and currently sits at No. 60, with results including his maiden ATP Tour final at the Turkish Open Airlines Antalya (l. to Sonego) and first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the BNP Paribas Open.
Both players held serve comfortably in the first set to set up a tie-break. Ruud started slowly and went down 0/3, but fought back to even the score with a three-point run of his own. But at 4/4, Ruud’s baseline game betrayed him and a pair of errors gifted the Serbian two set points. Kecmanovic continued to control most of the rallies and leaned into a big forehand at 6/5 to take the early advantage.
The second set began identically to the first, with neither player earning a break point to set up another tie-break. It appeared Ruud might level the match after prevailing in a 22-shot exchange to take a 5/3 lead, but Kecmanovic increased the pace on his shots and cracked a big forehand two points later to tie the score. The Norwegian mistimed a forehand at 5/5 and Kecmanovic converted on set point with a big serve for a commanding lead.
A well-timed forehand volley winner from the Serbian gave him the first break point of the match at 2-2 in the third set. He made good on it after a forehand error from Ruud and held serve comfortably to advance in one hour and 16 minutes. Kecmanovic finished the day with an impressive 20 winners to just 10 unforced errors,