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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday October 2, 2021

Casper Ruud

Casper Ruud battled past Grigor Dimitrov in three tight sets to set a final with Cameron Norrie at San Diego.

Casper Ruud continues to tick all the boxes, on all surfaces, in 2021, as the Norwegian star defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at the San Diego Open to reach his fifth ATP final of 2021 and first on a hard court.

Tennis Express

The World No.10, seeded second, has now registered 46 wins on the season against just 12 losses, and he improved to 16-5 on hard courts, to set a final with Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

Norrie, unseeded, stunned top-seeded Andrey Rublev in Saturday’s first semifinal, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his fifth final of 2021.

Both semifinals were close encounters, with Rublev pushing Norrie early, but the Brit coming through in the clutch time and time again, as he saved eight of nine break points and converted two of four to edge Rublev.

Ruud found himself in trouble against Dimitrov as well, as the suddenly surging Bulgarian turned up his athleticism and took over the second set before pushing Ruud in the first half of the final set.

Service holds were hard to come by early in the third but eventually Ruud pulled things together and won four of the final five games to earn the victory.

"It was tough but I was able to win the most important point of the match," said Ruud. "I just tried to keep on going with my game, to play heavy topspin balls and in the end that was what gave me the win."

Dimitrov, playing in his first semifinal of 2021, broke five times on six opportunities, but he wasn’t able to use his serve to keep Ruud from gaining traction with his return. The Norwegian was one tick better – he broke six times on 12 opportunities and, in the end that was enough to provide him with the small margin for victory.

Ruud and Norrie have never played before on tour, but they did practice as teammates together at Laver Cup last year in Boston.

"He's also had quite the year," said Ruud of Norrie. "He has a lot of confidence, we were together last week at Laver Cup, so we had some nice days there. Tomorrow we'll be competitors, it will be fun I think, we've never played each other and it's always exciting when you play someone for the first time. What can I say? May the best man win tomorrow."

Both players will bid to add points to their Race to Turn total. Norrie entered the week at 15th in the race to the ATP’s prestigious year-end finals (now 14th), while Ruud is ninth.


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