Ruud, Jabeur continue breakout years with historic berths in US Open semis

New York, Sep 6 (EFE).- Norway’s Casper Ruud and Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur have added a US Open semifinal berth to their list of accomplishments in 2022, advancing to the last four of the year’s final Grand Slam event with straight-set wins on Tuesday afternoon.

Ruud became the first player from his country to advance to the semifinals at the US Open, while Jabeur is the first African woman in the professional era to reach that stage at Flushing Meadows.

The seventh-ranked Ruud, who reached his first major final in June at the French Open and has a chance to become world No. 1 when the new rankings come out on Monday, notched a surprisingly convincing 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) quarterfinal victory over big-hitting Italian Matteo Berrettini in just two hours and 36 minutes.

In a match played under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium due to steady rain at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the Norwegian won the first set 6-1 in less than a half hour and then raced out to a 5-1 lead in the second set.

The Norwegian kept his unforced errors to a minimum and neutralized his opponent’s massive forehand with skillful use of the slice backhand.

But he also unleashed his own arsenal of weapons, serving with power and accuracy and using his potent, high-bouncing forehand to pressure the Berrettini backhand, the Italian’s weaker side.

Although the 2021 Wimbledon runner-up got one service break back and closed the gap to 5-4, Ruud wrapped up the second set with a comfortable service hold.

Berrettini, however, had started to turn the tide and gained further momentum when he earned another service break and then grabbed a 3-0 lead with a long service hold.

The Italian maintained his advantage until 5-2, but Ruud saved two set points in the eighth game and then earned a crucial service break in the ninth game to get back on serve.

The third set came down to a do-or-die tiebreaker for the Italian, who fell behind early and succumbed to defeat with one final forehand error.

“That was a better start than I think I ever had before in a match,” the 23-year-old Ruud, who had never reached the US Open fourth round before this year, said afterward.

“Everything was going my way. I was hitting all the spots I needed to. Plus, Matteo maybe didn’t serve as well as he usually does.”

Ruud, who won clay-court titles in Buenos Aires, Geneva and Gstaad earlier this year and also was runner-up on hard courts at the Miami Open, kept alive his chances for a maiden Grand Slam title and the No 1 ranking, which is currently held by Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

The Norwegian, who will next take on either big-serving Australian Nick Kyrgios or Russia’s Karen Khachanov in Friday’s semifinals, will become No. 1 if he wins the title or if he reaches the final and Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz loses in the quarterfinals or semifinals.

If neither Ruud nor Alcaraz reach the final, 36-year-old Spanish great Rafael Nadal, who lost to American Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, will ascend to the No. 1 spot in the rankings for the first time since early 2020.

In women’s quarterfinal action on Tuesday afternoon, Jabeur also started strong and recovered the momentum toward the end of the match in a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, who had earned a third-round win over Serena Williams in what may be the American great’s final match.

The fifth-ranked Tunisian, who won titles in Madrid and Berlin and attained a career-high ranking of No. 2 in June, is back in a Grand Slam semifinal just two months after finishing runner-up at Wimbledon.

Jabeur won the first set with authority, playing with control and power from the baseline and continuing the strong serving she had shown through her first four matches in New York.

The second set was more bumpy, with both players losing their serve on three occasions en route to a tiebreaker.

The most significant service break came when the Australian lost her serve at love when trying to serve out the second set at 5-3.

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