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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, November 13, 2022


No. 3-seeded Casper Ruud did not face a break point beating Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4), 6-4 in his ATP Finals round-robin opener.

Photo credit: Getty

Indoor tennis often inspires first-strike attack. 

A ruthless Casper Ruud snuffed out Felix Auger-Aliassime's second chances in Turin today.

More: Reaction to Simona Halep's Doping Suspension

The third-seeded Ruud did not face a break point defeating Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4), 6-4 in the ATP Finals Green Group round-robin opener.

"That's a great victory for me. Before arriving to this tournament, you know that you'll need to bring your A game to every match you play because otherwise you'll probably have struggles of winning matches," Ruud said. "I was able to do that today. I knew that against Felix, who has been on an unbelievable run in recent weeks, if I didn't bring my best game, I probably would be swept off the court.

"I'm happy that I was able to do that and beat the player who is in form and very hot at the moment. I'm very pleased with it. Gives me confidence knowing that I can beat aggressive players on this surface."

Since Ruud's run to the US Open final in September, he failed to post back-to-back wins in four ATP events.

Facing the man with the most indoor wins (27) and titles (4) on the season, Ruud set the tone with serving precision.

Ruud served 66 percent, won 18 of 23 second-serve points and stamped love holds in four of his first six service games.

"The serve is extremely important here on this surface," Ruud said. "One break in the whole match that is enough to win the match. So you really have to be focused on your serve. Luckily, today, I was serving well.

"It's been struggling a little bit with the serve in the past weeks, in the past matches, so I'm very happy to feel at least like I played a good match on my serve.

"I haven't see the statistics yet. So that was a good day of serving. On the second serve I was doing well I was mixing it up and trying to be aggressive there as well. I'm not the tallest guy, but today I was able to serve well definitely."

World No. 6 Auger-Aliassime played solidly, but did not consistently take the match to Ruud and betrayed his own cause with two untimely double faults, including double-faulting away the lone break in the seventh game of the second set.

In his ATP Finals debut, Auger-Aliassime won all 13 of his trips to net, but didn't attack the front court nearly enough.

"I feel like in the last few weeks, months, when I was playing well, I was returning much better than I did today," Auger-Aliassime said. "Still serving great, apart from one game where it wasn't even my serve. I did a few mistakes, bad mistakes, in the second set.

"I felt like I could have returned much better and give myself chances because I won a few points on my return, and that's not enough against a player like Casper. I think that was the main thing."

US Open finalist Ruud launched the round-robin format with a 1-0 mark to vault to the top of the Green Group.

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal will face eighth-seeded American Taylor Fritz in tonight's second Green Group match.

Neither man was truly tested on serve until the Canadian smacked a smash to draw to 30-all on Ruud's serve in the seventh game. Ruud erased the threat with a flurry of forehands that saw him fire a forehand down the line, holding for 4-3.

Tennis Express

The server held firm as Ruud stamped love holds in four of six service games in the opening set. Auger-Aliassime won eight of the last nine points on his serve to send the set into a tiebreaker.

In the first Tour-level tiebreaker between the pair, Ruud slid an ace out wide to open. Auger-Aliassime had won all nine of his second-serve points into the early stages of the breaker.

Serving at 2-3, Auger-Aliassime blinked, hitting the first double fault of the day into net. The mini break gave Ruud a 4-2 lead as they switched sides. Ruud narrowly missed a pass down the line as Auger-Aliassime regained the mini-break for 4-4.

The Canadian mis-hit a running backhand sending that shot wide as Ruud earned two set points at 6-4.  A few errors and the lone double fault in the breaker cost the Canadian as Ruud seized a one-set lead after 59 minutes.

Eighty-minutes into the match, Auger-Aliassime was running around his backhand pressing the Norwegian with forehand drives. Ruud put a short forehand into net to face the first deuce of the match. The third seed played some high looping topspin backhands to defend then flashed a forehand down the line that helped him hold for 2-all.

Though Auger-Aliassime served solidly for much of the match, untimely double faults betrayed his cause. Auger-Aliassime spit up his third double fault of the day into net, ceding the first break and a 4-3 lead to the third seed.

Roland Garros runner-up Ruud kept calm through a deuce test. Ruud singed the edge of the center stripe with his fifth ace backing up the break for 5-3.


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