Casper Ruud Storms Into His First US Open Semifinal And Reveals His Secret - UBITENNIS
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Casper Ruud Storms Into His First US Open Semifinal And Reveals His Secret

With his clear win, 61 64 76 over Matteo Berrettini the Norwegian throws down the gauntlet, and is still running for the ultimate goals: No 1 and US Open crown

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Not too long ago many of us thought this cool, amiable solid Norwegian guy was mostly an excellent clay court player, a model of hard working, who deserved his good ranking, around tenth position. The way he outclassed Matteo Berrettini at the US Open, has definitely proved how wrong we were. Matteo did not come up with his best performance, but Ruud played an impressive match all way long.

 

“The first two sets went much better than I was expecting. Everything sort of went my favour. I was hitting all the spots, all the shots that I needed to. Matteo was maybe not showing the level he typically does,” said Ruud. 

“But I think the conditions were a little bit in my favour with the humidity and the roof closed. It made the ball or the court feel a little slower. I felt like I had more time than usual when I play against him. It was a little bit of advantage for me.”

Ruud dominated the first set, prevailing in all domains. Even his service fared better than Berrettini’s.

“I was really bad. I didn’t check my percentage of serve. I didn’t check, like, the stats, but my game wasn’t there,’ Berrettini admitted. “It was he worst day of the tournament probably in the most important moment. I fought through, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t feeling my game. I wasn’t feeling my mindset. I think he was feeling really good. Congrats to him. I told him. He also said he played unbelievable match.”

Like in his previous match against Davidovich Fokina, Berrettini was looking stiff: his mighty serve and forehand refusing to flow. Ruud was always in the control of the rallies, where he often caged Berrettini in the backhand corner. With his deep, spinning groundstrokes he was constantly forcing the Italian to hit from far behind the baseline, draining his energy, then not fearing to switch to the forehand, no longer hurtful. Ruud took the set 61, in 28 minutes.

The second set was like a scan of the first and Ruud had two set points to finish it off with the same score. Suddenly, Berrettini shook off the rust, loosened up and started hitting through his shots, finding length and spin with his back hand and his power on the forehand. It wasn’t enough to save the set, which he only partially recovered, losing 64, but the wind was changing.

Indeed, Berrettini broke immediately in the third set. Now Ruud was starting to miss shots. He appeared gripped by anxiety and was playing more cautiously and predictably.

The Italian rose to 3-0 and actually had won six of the last seven games. Now he was holding on in the longer rallies, and, in spite of being forced to hit from far behind the baseline, he was now able to turn them around with his forehand. His serve in turn was ripping Ruud’s racquet from his hands. Leading 5-2 he had two set points on Ruud’s service but missed a forehand and a return. Serving for the set, the score read 30-30 when he chose to come into the net twice after a kick second serve. On both occasions Ruud’s returning and passing skills proved their worth and the number seven in the world bounced back into set. 

Ruud no longer let the match slip from his hands, whereas Berrettini didn’t succeed in sustaining his momentum. The tiebreak resembled the first thirteen games of the match, and Ruud imposed his dominance once more in the tiebreak. 

“In the third set I was also a little bit fortunate to save some set points and come back and win it on the tiebreak, but very happy to win in three straight sets,” he said

This is Ruud’s second long run in a Slam this year. He also had to pull out of Australian Open the day before the tournament because of ankle injury. 

“Not playing a match in Melbourne was a little bit obviously disappointing, but I knew that when Paris came along I was starting to feel better on the clay, especially, and finding my form and was trying to think, you know, there are three Grand Slams left of the year, and let’s try to take the chances I may get.” He reflected. 

What’s his secret for success?

“During Paris, something clicked, and I feel like I, this year, have sort of figured out in the better way how to play five sets and knowing that it’s very different from playing best-of-three sets, and it often becomes much longer matches and a lot of back and forth.” He said. 
“Also sometimes realizing or knowing that you can sort of let one set go every once in a while to save some energy for the rest of the sets. So I think, yeah, I matured and learned how to play five sets better than I did last year.”

Confidence in his much improved game on hard courts is a key factor too.

“I’m honestly a bit surprised that I made it to the semis here, but I think I have developed my hard court game a lot the last year or two, and I think Miami this year showed me and I proved to myself that I can, you know, beat good players and reach later stages in big hard court tournaments. That has been a sort of confidence booster for myself.”

Anyway, who says that clay court players can’t target the US Open?

“If you look at this tournament, US Open, and a couple of players who have been known as clay court players, let’s say Rafa and Thiem, they have both won here, and Rafa has won it four times. When you look at the Champions Wall in the locker room here, you see there are many different players who have won this tournament. This is a Grand Slam the last 18 or 19 years that had more winners than the rest of them, because I’m not sure why, but there is something special I guess with this place. This year I’m pretty sure there will be new first-time winner here this year also.”

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Frances Tiafoe And Jack Sock Ready To Rain On Federer’s Parade At Laver Cup

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Frances Tiafoe describes his first match at this year’s Laver Cup as ‘iconic’ but he is determined to seal victory with doubles partner Jack Sock. 

 

Tiafoe, who reached the semi-finals of the US Open earlier this month, will feature in what will be the final match of Roger Federer’s illustrious career. The Swiss maestro has announced that the team competition will be the last event he will play before retiring from the sport at the age of 41. Federer will partner up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal in what promises to be an emotional encounter for all involved on Friday evening. 

“It’s going to be iconic to be part of that,” Tiafoe told reporters in London. “Both guys are absolute legends, and obviously Roger’s last dance. We are definitely just out there trying to get a win.”

Looking at the wider picture, Tiafoe knows a win in the doubles could prove vital in team World’s bid to win the Laver Cup for the first time in history. Whilst on paper his achievements are overshadowed by those he faces, his current form gives him the edge. Federer hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon last year due to a knee injury. Furthermore, Nadal is still trying to get back to his best shape following an abdominal injury and was beaten by Tiafoe at the US Open. 

“This is a special night. I just think me and Jack are just looking for a special night, come out there, have fun,” he continued. “The crowd is obviously going to be for them. You understand that kind of moment, and just go out there and do your part and just try to get a win. It’s going to be a special night tomorrow. I’m just happy I get the opportunity to do it with Jack.”

Sock, who has won three Grand Slam titles during his career, echoes Tiafoe’s desire to seal victory over the two tennis giants. 

“I’m just stoked to be a part of it with my guy Foe (Tiafoe),” he said. 
“We will go out and enjoy the moment, but not going to hold anything back. Sorry, Roger. Don’t want to spoil the night.”

Federer’s final match at The O2 Arena in London is set to take place in front of a sellout crowd. Following his retirement announcement, ticket sales for the three-day event have exploded. Ace Odds have reported a 4020% rise in demand for tickets with prices starting from £900. An extraordinary outcome considering the most expensive ticket for the Laver Cup was originally £510. 

The doubles match involving Federer, Nadal, Tiafoe and Sock is estimated to start around 20:20 BST on Friday. 

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