Ruud Eyes Clay-Court Hat-Trick, Faces Martinez In Kitzbühel Final

Norwegian aiming for first ATP Tour triple since 2011

Top seed Casper Ruud is one match away from lifting his fourth singles trophy of the year after taking down Arthur Rinderknech on Friday in a rain-interrupted 6-3, 7-6(7) victory at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel. 

The Norwegian added an 11th consecutive victory to a head-turning win streak that has seen him claim back-to-back trophies at the Nordea Open in Bastad and the Swiss Open Gstaad. Ruud, who also won at the Gonet Geneva Open earlier in the season, will take on Pedro Martinez in the Kitzbühel final as he seeks to claim his fifth career title – and lift his third trophy in as many weeks.  

“When I won in Gstaad, I was already thinking about it a little, that maybe I can try and get a hat trick. That would be unbelievable," Ruud said. "And now I have fought my way to the final here, and I have the chance to play for it tomorrow. I will try to fight even more again tomorrow.” 

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Ruud is seeking to become the first player since Andy Murray in October 2011 to win three ATP Tour singles titles in as many weeks. Murray achieved the feat by lifting the trophies in Bangkok (d. Young), Tokyo (d. Nadal) and Shanghai (d. Ferrer). 

The top seed had to fight through French alternate Rinderknech in order to reach the final. He broke early to take a 4-1 lead, and kept his composure after a rain delay halted play for several hours. Upon resumption, Ruud converted his fifth set point to close out the opening set. 

He had to save a set point in the second-set tie-break as Rinderknech saved two match points and took a 7/6 lead. But Ruud, who didn’t face a break point in the match, reeled off the next three points to seal the victory after one hour and 45 minutes.

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“I think I played steady the whole match and with few mistakes. That was the plan all along, to try to feed him with a lot of balls as much as possible,” Ruud said. “He has a lot of big weapons, but sometimes when he plays it can be high-risk and there can be mistakes. I think I did the plan very well.” 

Ruud will take on Martinez next after the Spaniard rallied from a set down to take down Daniel Altmaier and book a place into his first ATP Tour final. Martinez won 74 per cent (42/57) and broke his opponent’s serve four times to seal the 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory. 

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