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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday May 6, 2021

 
Casper Ruud

Norway's Casper Ruud notched his biggest career win, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in Madrid to reach the last eight.

Photo Source: Madrid Open/ Alberto Nevado

Stefanos Tsitsipas has been rifling through victims with alarming pace in 2021, but the fourth-seeded Greek was given a rude awakening on Thursday as Norway’s Casper Ruud played the perfect match to take out the fourth seed, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Tennis Express


Ruud, 22 and edging ever closer to the Top 20, made 75 percent of his first serves and never faced a break point as he edged Tsitsipas in a high quality affair. The Norwegian moves on to face Alexander Bublik on Friday, but that didn’t stop him from taking a moment to savor his first Top 5 victory.

“It was by far my best win ever on the tour, and my biggest match win ever, and I’m super happy that it came here in Madrid, in a big match like this, it was an important match and against such a good player like Stef you need to be on top of your game,” he said, adding: “Here the points can go a bit quicker than usual, so I was prepared to serve well and try as good as I can in the returns and I was able to get one break towards the end, and that was luckily enough to seal it.”

Ruud entered the match with an 0-4 record against the Top 5, but he had earned Top 10 victories in each of his clay-court Masters 1000 events (over Matteo Berrettini in Rome in 2020 and over Diego Schwartzman in Monte-Carlo in April of this year).

Ruud, who has reached the semis of his last two clay-court Masters 1000 events, says the win over Tsitsipas can only help grow his confidence.


“Definitely a win like today givesyou confidence,” he said. “Stefanos is the number one player on the Race to Turin this year, so it shows that he has been one of the top players for the year, to beat him here in Madrid is a very nice feeling and I can use the confidence for tomorrow.”

Ruud improves his lifetime record on clay to 56-28, and his record in 2021 now stands at 15-5. On his Madrid debut, he is proving yet again that he is a force to be reckoned with on his favorite surface.

As for Tsitsipas, he has little to hang his head about. He hit 30 winners and only surrendered a single break of serve in the match and only lost 15 points on serve (Ruud converted his only break point of the match at 3-3 15-40 in the second set). A few points here or there and he’d still be alive in the draw, but today, thanks to Ruud, it simply was not to be.

A little extra rest might not be the worst thing for the World No.5 as he prepares for Rome and then, later this spring, to defend his semi-final points at Roland-Garros.

“He is one of the best players this year on the tour, one of the ones who has won the more matches,” Ruud said. “He's won his first Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo. Barcelona he was very close to getting the title there, as well. But the conditions are a bit different here than other clay courts with the fast shots, the ball traveling faster through the air because of the altitude. You get a lot of free points with the serve that you don't usually do on the clay courts. I think that also today went a bit in my advantage.”

 

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