Match Report

Ruud Toughs Out Toronto Opener

Norwegian is one win away from 200th tour-level victory
August 09, 2023
Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour
Casper Ruud defeats Jiri Lehecka on Tuesday in Toronto. By ATP Staff

Casper Ruud battled through a tricky test from Jiri Lehecka on Tuesday to reach the third round of the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.

A semi-finalist at last year’s ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal, Ruud defeated the 21-year-old Czech 7-6(6), 6-4 in a tale of two sets.

Ruud struggled to find his best level in the opening set, committing 21 unforced errors, including six double faults. Despite having a set point on return at 5-6 that Lehecka fended off with a deft backhand drop shot, the World No. 5 kept his cool to rally from 0/4 in the first-set tie-break and later winning four consecutive points from 4/6. 

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"I just kind of said to myself, 'Don't give up,'" Ruud said in his on-court interview. "Honestly the last couple of losses I've had in the last month have been going away from me too quickly, I've lost a couple sets 0-6, which is not a good feeling.

"I was down 0/4 in that tie-break and I said, 'I'm just going to somehow get my claws and keep holding onto this score. Luckily I got two mini-breaks back and then saved a couple set points. It's sometimes just about luck, margins being on your side and luckily today they were on my side when I really needed it."

As the match wore on, Ruud found greater consistency, producing heavy top-spin forehands deep beyond the baseline to outlast Lehecka in extended rallies and broke the Czech's serve to love in the seventh game of the second set. The 24-year-old Ruud won 13 consecutive points in the second set to earn triple match point at 5-3 before closing the match on serve, converting his fourth match point.

"Towards the end of the second set, I was starting to feel better. I was hitting cleaner and serving much better," Ruud said. "First set and second set, a little bit of a difference but I'm happy with the way I progressed through the match."

Ruud will next meet 13th seed Alexander Zverev or Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Should the Norwegian win and reach the Toronto quarter-finals, it would mark his 200th tour-level victory.

The third seed is aiming for his second title of the season (Estoril) and first career crown at ATP Masters 1000 level. Currently eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, Ruud is hoping for another deep run in Canada to put distance between him and other Nitto ATP Finals hopefuls.

World No. 36 Lehecka, who was making his Toronto debut, produced heavy hitting throughout the second-round clash to push Ruud. A finalist at last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals, Lehecka will rue committing 35 unforced errors to Ruud's 25.

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