© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Casper Ruud is through to his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final after beating Fabio Fognini in Monte-Carlo on Friday.

Ruud: 'It's The Toughest Challenge Of My Career'

Norwegian looks to beat 2021 match wins leader Rublev

Casper Ruud says that he will prepare for Saturday’s semi-final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters as if “it’s the toughest challenge of my career”.

Ruud, who has beaten three seeded players en route to his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, will face sixth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev, who defeated 11-time former champion Rafael Nadal 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

The Norwegian admitted, “I just have to prepare well, like it's the toughest challenge of my career so far. I'm sure it will be. But I've gained good confidence from this week. I've beaten good players. I have to try to find a way to believe that I can win.”

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The 22-year-old overcame defending champion Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3 on Friday, adding to wins over Dane Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, seventh seed Diego Schwartzman and No. 12 seed Pablo Carreno Busta at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.

“Tomorrow there has to be one winner of the match, and hopefully it can be me,” said Ruud. “I will try to relax and get a lot of energy for tomorrow and think that it's a little bit now or never.”

Ruud hopes to draw upon his experience of competing in the Internazionali BNL d'Italia semi-finals in October last year, when he fell to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

“In Rome, I faced the World No. 1 Djokovic. He is one of the toughest opponents you can have on the Tour. Tomorrow will be no different. [It’ll be] Rublev, who has won the most ATP Tour matches this year.”

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Rublev, who leads Ruud 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, has an ATP Tour-best 23-4 match record on the 2021 season, which includes capturing the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament title (d. Fucsovics) in March.