Ruthless Ruud Serves Up Second Title In Geneva
The Norwegian has been in impressive form throughout the clay-court swing, arriving in Geneva on the back of three consecutive semi-finals at Monte-Carlo (l. Rublev), Munich (l.Basilashvili) and Madrid (l. Berrettini).
“It feels great that I’ve been playing well lately and reaching the later stages in my past tournaments,” Ruud said in his post-match press conference. “It is a big confidence-booster ahead of Roland Garros… It was a close match today and it could have gone either way.”
In Geneva, Ruud dropped only one set en route the the championship match against fellow 22-year-old #NextGenATP alumnus Shapovalov, who was also seeking his second tour-level title.
Ruud edged through a tightly contested opening set that was defined by strong serving and no break points on offer. Shapovalov dropped only one point (15/16) behind his first serve and won 94 per cent of those points, while Ruud dominated the second serve, winning 91 per cent (10/11) before they went into the tie-break.
When the opening finally came for Ruud, he capitalised right away. Taking advantage of only his second look at a Shapovalov second serve in the set, Ruud unloaded on the return and jammed Shapovalov at the net to earn an error for a 4/2 lead.
From 2/6 down, the Canadian fought back to save four set points and bring them level in the decider. But Ruud got himself out of trouble with an ace – one of four he struck in the match – before Shapovalov dumped a volley into the net to seal the set.
“It was a tough first set, it was very close,” Ruud said. “We were both serving great so there weren’t that many rallies after the serve on both sides because of the high level. But in the tie-break there were some rallies here and there… Happily for me I won the first set, and I think that gave me a little bit of confidence to calm down a little bit – not to relax, but to play more freely.”
After such a high-quality opening set, a second-set letdown was inevitable – but Ruud kept his level high as the Canadian’s first-serve percentage eventually dropped off, giving his opponent the opening he needed.
Ruud was right there to keep Shapovalov under pressure, and earned the first break opportunities of the match in the decisive 2-2 game. Shapovalov held firm during the marathon game, saving four break points, but couldn’t hold back the Norwegian as he converted his fifth. Ruud served out the victory after an hour and 43 minutes.
“It feels as good to win today as it did in Buenos Aires [in 2020],” Ruud said. “I was more mature this week, knowing that I won a title before. It’s something else to do it the second time, but it’s the same great winning taste and winning feeling.”
Shapovalov was seeking his second ATP Tour title in his third final appearance, after improving to 2-10 in semi-final matches with a victory over Pablo Cuevas.
Did You Know?
The Geneva final is the first of 2021 to feature two 22-and-under players. There were six such finals during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season – the most on the ATP Tour since nine in 2009. The most recent took place at the European Open in Antwerp last October (Ugo Humbert d. Alex de Minaur).