Ruud Proves Doubters Wrong, Reaches Toronto Quarter-Finals
Casper Ruud a clay-court specialist? The Norweigen dismissed that narrative after his third-round victory at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers on Thursday, as he defeated Dusan Lajovic in straight sets.
Ruud decided to write a message on the television camera following the match, writing ‘Hard Courts’ with a smile underneath to make clear that he is a man for all surfaces.
“I have seen a lot of people questioning my ability to play on hard court, so I just thought it was funny to write a little note,” Ruud said in his post-match press conference. “I think it's fun to play on hard courts. Even though I (have achieved) most of my best results on clay, my best slam result is from this year’s Australian Open (where he reached the Round of 16), so I think it's a surface that also can suit my game well even though this year has been mainly clay.
“I think I'm motivated to come back to the hard courts. I have had two very good matches here. It's a great start for me to the hard-court swing.”
With the clay swing now behind him, Ruud's performance on hard courts in the latter part of the season will determine whether he qualifies for November's Nitto ATP Finals. Ruud sits eighth in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin and has his sights firmly set on making his debut at the eight-man season finale.
Neither player managed to break in the opening set until the final game, when Lajovic hit four unforced errors to donate the break to Ruud. The Norwiegen had no such trouble on serve in the opener, winning 20 of his 22 service points and 100 per cent of his second-serve points.
There was little to separate the two players in the second set but it was the No. 6 seed who again gained the crucial break in the latter stages to defeat the Serb. Ruud won 76% of his second-serve points on his way to victory.
The four-time ATP Tour champion in 2021 explained the different playing style required when transitioning from clay court to hard court.
“I think there are many things you do to kind of change your game style from clay to hard,” Ruud said. “You can try to flatten out the shots a bit, maybe use the slice a bit more. You can block some returns here and there and come to the net a little bit more.
“For now, I prefer to play the rallies from the baseline. But to mix up with some slices can be good, to keep the ball low on the surface. I think the courts here are pretty fast this year, so it's definitely something I'm trying to do.”
Ruud moves on to the quarter-finals of an ATP Tour event for the 11th time this season as he continues his pursuit of a first ATP Masters 1000 level title.
The 22-year-old will next play third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals, with Ruud winning their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting this year in Madrid.