Casper's A Champ! Ruud Wins First ATP Tour Title In Buenos Aires
The 21-year-old became the first Norwegian to win an ATP Tour title on Sunday, defeating Portugal’s Pedro Sousa 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 11 minutes. Not only was the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier thrilled to lift his maiden tour-level trophy, but he will have family bragging rights on Monday.
"I feel a great sensation now. It is what all players look for and dream. I am very happy with my career, although I know that I am still young," Ruud said. "Buenos Aires will always be a special place for me, this is my first title."
Christian Ruud, Casper’s father and coach, reached a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 39 in October 1995, more than three years before his son was born. But on Monday, Casper will surpass his father as the highest-ranked Norwegian ever, as he is projected to climb to a career-best World No. 34.
Ruud became the youngest Buenos Aires champion by one year (Guillermo Coria, 22, 2004) with a flawless performance against Sousa, a lucky loser, pushing the first-time ATP Tour finalist well behind the baseline throughout the match and forcing the Portuguese to stay on defence or go for risky shots, leading to unforced errors. Ruud won all nine of his service games without facing a break point, while he broke three times and won 43 per cent of his return points.
Youngest Buenos Aires Champions
|2020||Casper Ruud||21 years, one month|
|2004||Guillermo Coria||22 years, one month|
|2002||Nicolas Massu||22 years, four months|
|2016||Dominic Thiem||22 years, five months|
The eighth seed broke in his first return game of the match when Sousa, who had his left leg heavily wrapped, missed a cross-court forehand wide. That set the tone for the match, as Ruud used his heavy forehand to open up the court throughout. While Sousa often leapt into backhands to try to add some extra pace to the ball from deep in the court, he never found a way to take Ruud out of his comfort zone.
"I knew that my opponent was not 100 per cent, but those kinds of issues are part of the game," Ruud said. "I went out to win the match and the tournament."
Ruud crushed an inside-in return winner to secure a second break in the opener, before another Sousa unforced error — he missed a forehand down the middle long — gave the Norwegian the opening set. The Portuguese then hit back-to-back double faults in the first game of the second set to hand Ruud the break.
The Oslo-native Ruud did not look back from there, weathering Sousa’s improving level and the crowd, which was behind the Portuguese. Sousa let the ball fly as Ruud served for the match, earning a 15/30 advantage and later saving a championship point with a rocketed forehand down the line. But Ruud held his nerve, dropping his racquet and lifting both arms in the air after Sousa missed a final forehand from well off the court.
Ruud showed his clay-court prowess from a young age, reaching the 2017 Rio Open presented by Claro semi-finals when he was 18. He advanced to his first ATP Tour final last year in Houston at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, where he was the youngest finalist since 19-year-old Andy Roddick in 2002.
The Norwegian, who has won more than 64 per cent of his tour-level matches on this surface (34-19), adds 250 ranking points and $102,535. Sousa, the third Portuguese ATP Tour finalist in the Open Era, claims 150 points and $56,760.
"It's the best week of my life, my first final and maybe the last one," Sousa said with a laugh. “I came to play qualies about two weeks ago and I am sitting here on Sunday. I cannot be more happy. Ruud played very firm and is the deserved champion.”