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Ruud Renewal. Is Casper Back on Track in Rome?

By Erik Gudris | @atntennis | Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Casper Ruud made a name for himself in 2022 with a breakthrough year that included reaching two Grand Slam singles finals in Paris and New York. As far as 2023, well, it hasn't been the greatest season so far for the Norwegian star.


Yet, by reaching the Italian Open semifinals in Rome, it appears that perhaps finally Ruud has found his groove to once again make an impact at the tour's biggest events.


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The 24-year-old Ruud reached the International BNL d'Italia final four once again with a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over No. 24 seed Francisco Cerundolo. It marks Ruud's third consecutive semifinal appearance in three years in Rome. He'll next face Holger Rune, who upset top seed Novak Djokovic earlier in the day.

"I'm just very happy to play good tennis and be in the semifinals," Ruud said after the match. "It's going to be a very, very fun one, hopefully." 


Ruud's win over Cerundolo was never a certainty. That includes Ruud having lost to the 24th seed Argentine in their last two meetings, including a straight sets loss in Barcelona a few weeks ago. 


But just by reaching the Rome semifinals, Last year's Roland Garros runner-up has put himself firmly back in the conversation for this year's second Grand Slam tournament in just a few week's time. For Ruud, it could well be the famous Italian food that has put the Norwegian back in contention. 


"Tennis is a strange sport, as we all can tell. And I think I've really lived through it the last twelve months or so, some of my best moments of my career and some tougher losses in the past couple of months," Ruud said. "But here we are back in Rome and I feel great. I know that I've had success in Italy before in my career, here. It's something in the food maybe, I don't know."


To his credit, Ruud has been very forthright and honest during this season about his lack of success, considering his top ranking. That includes early-round losses at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Monte Carlo and Madrid. Ruud, after winning Estoril at the start of the clay court swing, said later that he would try to play more aggressively, especially on his forehand side. 


"I think playing more aggressively, especially with my forehand, it's what I rely on and my strength in my game to be on base on my forehand and I think I haven't been able to play aggressive enough, or hit too many winners from that side lately," Ruud said in Madrid a few weeks ago. "I think I need to step up a little bit and take some more risk, maybe throw in a drop shot here and there. I want to be a little bit more unpredictable maybe from that side and I think that's something I will try to work on this week."


Whatever Ruud has been doing in practice or in matches, it's good to see one of the tour's most popular and rising starts back in the mix before Paris later this year.