Ruud snaps Tsitsipas' streak, wins his biggest title in Barcelona

Norwegian avenges his Monte-Carlo final defeat to the Greek
April 21, 2024
Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images
Casper Ruud defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday in the Barcelona final. By ATP Staff

Casper Ruud completed a revenge job in convincing fashion Sunday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, where the Norwegian defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-3 to lift the trophy at the clay-court ATP 500.

Seven days after Tsitsipas prevailed in the pair’s championship-match meeting in Monte-Carlo, Ruud delivered a classy all-around display to clinch his first ATP Tour title of the season. The third seed converted three of six break points he earned, according to Infosys ATP stats, as he proved the more consistent player from the baseline on Pista Rafa Nadal.

“Honestly, this has been worth the wait,” said Ruud, who had been to seven previous finals above ATP 250 level without winning a trophy. “A lot of finals that I’ve lost have been tough, a bit disappointing, of course. Any time you reach a final, it’s nonetheless a good week, so you can’t be too hard on yourself, but this one has been a long time coming.

“I’m super happy to do it here in Barcelona in front of a packed stadium and on Rafa Nadal Court. It’s special to me because I looked up to him all my childhood, came here myself as a 13-year-old boy to watch him and the others play here. It’s a great feeling.”

With his 90-minute final triumph, Ruud snapped Tsitsipas’ 10-match winning streak. The Norwegian began the year well, reaching three finals prior to this week in Barcelona, and Sunday’s victory against Tsitsipas was his Tour-leading 29th match win of the year.

A 2022 finalist at the Nitto ATP Finals, Ruud last year missed out on qualification for the prestigious season finale. He has established himself as an early contender in this year’s PIF ATP Live Race To Turin, however. The 25-year-old has risen one spot to third as a result of his Barcelona title run.

“Just to kind of [bring] it to him a little bit more than last week,” said Ruud when asked what he had done against Tsitsipas in Barcelona compared to Monte-Carlo. “In the final in Monte-Carlo I was always on the back foot, too far behind, and he had too much time to control the game."

Ruud made the worst possible start to his fifth tour-level clash with Tsitsipas. A poor opening game handed the Greek an early break, but from there the Norwegian offered his opponent precious few free points. He reclaimed the break in the sixth game and then crucially broke through again on Tsitsipas’ serve in the 12th game to seal the opening set.

Both players largely favoured sticking to the baseline in cool conditions in Barcelona, and Ruud continued to take the upper hand in extended rallies into the second set. He broke to love in the fourth game, and that proved enough to triumph in a set in which he did not face a break point.

“It was a bit of a tricky start, got broken right away,” reflected Ruud. “So not the best start, but I managed to settle in and broke him back. Clutched up and broke him in the end of the first, which was huge.

“It’s been two long weeks for both of us. It’s obvious that at some point fatigue is going to kick in. I think we were both fit enough to play today, it’s not about that, but winning the first set was huge probably for either of us.”

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With his first title win since Estoril in April 2023, Ruud moved into a 3-2 Lexus ATP Head2Head series lead against Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas is now 0-4 in Barcelona finals, but the No. 7 in the PIF ATP Rankings has rediscovered his best level in style this fortnight, when he went 10-1 across Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.

“I wasn’t playing my best tennis this week in Barcelona, but I was still able to find a way and get to the final,” said Tsitsipas in his post-match press conference. “Throughout the whole week I didn’t feel like my shots had the same effect as they did in Monte-Carlo… I still fought, and still made it happen. Being in the final is amazing, I would take that any day, being in the final.

“I’m just happy I was able to find ways to get here. Today it felt like I didn’t have the mental capacity. Casper was too good today. He had the fresher mind, played better tennis, and he deserved to win.”

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