Sports Desk, Apr 1 (EFE)- Casper Ruud eased to a 6-4, 6-1 victory Friday afternoon over Francisco Cerundolo to reach the Miami Open final and earn a shot at a maiden ATP Tour Masters 1000 title.
The 103rd-ranked Cerundolo’s Cinderella run came to an anticlimactic end against the solid baseline play and forehand power of Ruud, who also has enjoyed the best week of his young career.
In a battle of 23-year-old players who’d had more success on clay than hard courts prior to this event, the Argentine briefly grabbed the lead early in the opening set when he broke Ruud’s serve in the first game.
His highlights were few and far between though from that point forward, with the Norwegian immediately getting the break back and then clinching the set when Cerundolo lost his serve a second time in the 10th game.
The second set was closely matched at the outset, as Ruud had to save four break points in winning his first two service games.
But the world No. 8 broke Cerundolo at love in the fourth game of that set to grab a 3-1 advantage and never looked back.
“It was not where I imagine myself playing my first Masters 1000 final, but I will take it,” Ruud said in an on-court interview, referring to the hard-court surface at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. “It is a great feeling and I am enjoying the city and the tournament. It was pretty brutal today. Very humid, which made the breathing a little tough.”
Ruud finally achieved that career milestone after three previous losses in the semifinal round of ATP Tour Masters 1000 tournaments (all on clay).
Despite the loss, the Argentine had an unforgettable week that will lift him to a new career-high ranking of No. 51.
Cerundolo had never competed in an ATP Tour Masters 1000 tournament and never won an ATP Tour-level match on hard court before this week.
But he made the most of his opportunity by winning five contests, including upsets of big-serving American Reilly Opelka, France’s Gael Monfils, American Frances Tiafoe and Italy’s Jannik Sinner, who had to retire with an injury.
He also became the lowest-ranked semifinalist in the history of the Miami Open, a tournament that dates back to the mid-1980s.
Next up for Ruud in Sunday’s final will be either 18-year-old Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz or Polish defending champion Hubert Hurkacz.
Alcaraz advanced to Friday night’s semifinal showdown by defeating Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in a thrilling contest Thursday night that came down to a third-set tiebreaker.
Hurkacz upset Daniil Medvedev in straight sets on Thursday afternoon to keep the Russian from reclaiming the No. 1 ranking from Serbian great Novak Djokovic.
Saturday’s women’s final will pit four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka of Japan against Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who is riding a 16-match winning streak and will become world No. 1 for the first time on Monday regardless of the outcome of that contest. EFE