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'Overachiever' Ruud Sees Big Opportunity In Australia

  • Posted: Nov 20, 2022

‘Overachiever’ Ruud Sees Big Opportunity In Australia

Norwegian fell to Djokovic in Sunday’s Turin final

Casper Ruud, by his own estimation, overachieved during the 2022 ATP Tour season. Following his defeat to Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s Nitto ATP Finals title match, the 23-year-old Norwegian will finish the year at World No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

His lofty position is reward for three tour-level titles this season, and an additional four finals at some of the biggest events on the calendar: Turin, the US Open, Roland Garros and Miami.

“In the end it’s been disappointing to end up losing these big finals,” Ruud said, reflecting on the past 11 months. “Overall, if you gave me an offer to end the year at No. 3, play the finals that I’ve played, at the 1st of January this year, I would probably sign the contract right away. No doubt about it.”

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Asked again about his record this year in finals, he later added: “It gives me motivation and a hunger to maybe next time, if I ever get to another final like this… I hope I can learn from what I have done this year and not been able to do and see how it goes. I just feel like I still have room for improvements, even though I’m very happy with my game and how things have turned out this year.”

Ruud was particularly surprised by his run this week in Turin, the indoor surface not favourable to his looping ground strokes. 

“This result to me is maybe one of the most surprising, finishing the year here on a blistering fast indoor hard court, making the final — not something that I found very likely,” he said after his 7-5, 6-3 defeat to Djokovic. “Maybe neither did I, in the US Open, [expect] to make the final.

“I’ve overachieved compared to my own mind, so I’m very happy about that.”

By surpassing his goals this season — which initially included reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final — Ruud has raised the bar for 2023. He is already eying his next big opportunity at the Australian Open, where he does not have any Pepperstone ATP Rankings points to defend.

“This year I was not even able to play the Australian Open, so it’s a big chance for me to get some sort of revenge down there and hopefully have a good result,” said Ruud, who will end the year 1,000 points behind World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz. “I look forward to going to Australia and starting a new season. I look forward to playing best-of-five sets again. I think for the Australian Open I can say I’m already hungry to have a good result and let’s see how next year plays out.

“There will be a lot of points and results for me to defend [after Australia]. I hope I can do that and achieve even more. That’s not going to be easy because this year I’ve done very well in certain tournaments, but I will try my best.”

Ruud finalised his 2022 ATP Tour season with a 51-22 tour-level record, his second straight year with more than 50 wins. His many deep tournament runs have sent his match count climbing above 70 in each of the past two years, but Ruud is looking forward to another marathon season, with injury prevention among his main goals.

“I’m probably going to have more eyes on me from next year on. That’s something I’m going to just try to deal with and see how it goes,” he said.

“I’m just going to focus on the matches that I play, take it from there. When you’re starting in Australia, you know you probably going to play tens of thousands of points in the year, hopefully if you have a good one, close to 80 or 90 matches. It’s just one of many [tournaments].

“It’s like the start of a marathon and you are motivated for it.”

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Djokovic Ties Another Record, Extends Big Titles Lead

  • Posted: Nov 20, 2022

Djokovic Ties Another Record, Extends Big Titles Lead

Serbian secures sixth Nitto ATP Finals trophy

Novak Djokovic continues to etch his name in the record books. The Serbian tied Roger Federer’s record of six Nitto ATP Finals titles on Sunday in Turin.

The 35-year-old again extended his lead in the ‘Big Titles’ race when he defeated Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3 in the championship match at the Pala Alpitour. He now owns 65 ‘Big Titles’, which are 

trophies at a Grand Slam championship, the Nitto ATP Finals, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament or an Olympic singles gold medal.

Djokovic owns six more ‘Big Titles’ than any other player in history, with longtime rival Rafael Nadal (59) his closest competitor. Outside of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer (54), no other player holds more than 30 of the prestigious crowns (Pete Sampras, 30).

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History-Maker Djokovic Claims Nitto ATP Finals Crown

The Serbian first triumphed at the year-end championships in 2008, when the tournament was called the Tennis Masters Cup. Djokovic has obliterated the record of biggest gap between first and most recent Nitto ATP Finals titles at 14. Before his win Sunday, the previous record belonged to Sampras and Federer, who lifted their first and last season finale trophies eight years apart.

Djokovic triumphed in Turin without losing a set, earning a record $4,740,300 in prize money. He lost just one set en route to the title, claiming victories against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, Taylor Fritz and Ruud.

Djokovic’s ‘Big Title’ win rate holds steady at one trophy for every 3.2 events played (65/209), while Nadal has claimed one ‘Big Title’ for every 3.5 tournaments he has played (59/207). The only other players who have won a ‘Big Title’ at a greater rate than once per five events played are Federer (4.4, 54/240) and Pete Sampras (4.9, 30/147).

Current and Former Champions’ Big Titles Won (Records Since 1990)

Player Grand Slams Nitto ATP Finals 1000s Total^ (Avg)
Novak Djokovic 21/67 6/15 38/123 65/209 (3.2)
Rafael Nadal 22/66 0/11 36/128 59/207 (3.5)
Roger Federer 20/80 6/17 28/138 54/240 (4.4)
Pete Sampras 14/52 5/11 11/83 30/147 (4.9)
Andre Agassi 8/61 1/13 17/90 27/164 (6.1)
Andy Murray 3/55 1/8 14/109 20/175 (8.8)
Boris Becker* 2/26 2/6 5/51 9/84 (9.3)
Thomas Muster 1/29 0/4 8/53 9/87 (9.7)
Stefan Edberg** 3/28 0/4 4/45 7/79 (11.3)
Gustavo Kuerten 3/33 1/3 5/67 9/105 (11.6)
Jim Courier 4/38 0/4 5/71 9/114 (12.6)
Marcelo Rios 0/26 0/1 5/56 5/84 (16.8)
Marat Safin 2/41 0/3 5/87 7/133 (19)
Michael Chang*** 0/50 0/6 7/86 7/144 (20.6)
Andy Roddick 1/46 0/6 5/75 6/129 (22.5)

^ Includes Olympic Games gold medals and tournament participations
* Becker’s four other Grand Slam titles came before 1990.
** Edberg’s three other Grand Slam titles came before 1990.
*** Chang’s one Grand Slam title came before 1990

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History-Maker Djokovic Claims Nitto ATP Finals Crown

  • Posted: Nov 20, 2022

History-Maker Djokovic Claims Nitto ATP Finals Crown

Serbian equals Federer’s record of six titles at year-end event

Novak Djokovic earned a record-equalling sixth Nitto ATP Finals title and a historic $4.7m payday when he defeated Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3 in the Turin title match Sunday.

In a clash between this week’s two round-robin winners, it was Djokovic’s high-class return game that proved the difference as he carved out all five of the break point opportunities in the match. Despite some typically strong hitting from Ruud, Djokovic’s big-match mentality prevailed as he sealed a 93-minute victory at the Pala Alpitour.

“I missed a couple of forehands in the last game when I was serving for it,” Djokovic said after his win. “I had nerves, but I am really grateful to be able to serve the match out. I had a big ace to close out. Seven years [since winning this title] has been a long time. At the same time, the fact that I waited seven years makes this victory even sweeter and even bigger.”

The Rome, Wimbledon, Tel Aviv and Astana champion Djokovic has now won the Nitto ATP Finals in three different cities. The Serbian triumphed in Shanghai in 2008 and in London in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The 35-year-old also becomes the oldest champion in the tournament’s 53-year history.

Djokovic is five years older than the previous oldest Nitto ATP Finals champion, Roger Federer in 2011. The Serbian has now lifted the trophy at the season finale in three different decades, yet another testament to his longevity and ability to consistently compete against the best.

“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that what I hold in my mind is a huge hunger still to win trophies,” said Djokovic in his post-match press conference. “Make history of this sport, compete on the highest level all around the world, bring good emotions to sports fans, tennis fans. That’s what drives me a lot.

“I have a lot of different motivational factors, and I don’t lack any motivation for the moment. Of course, we all have bad days or bad weeks. But generally the feel is still there.”

Most Nitto ATP Finals Titles

Player Nitto ATP Finals Titles
Novak Djokovic  6
Roger Federer  6
Ivan Lendl  5
Pete Sampras  5
Ilie Nastase  4
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Djokovic Ties Another Record, Extends Big Titles Lead

Djokovic was pleased with the way he had completed the victory in the final game against Ruud as he improved to 18-1 across his four final tour-level events of the 2022 season to lift his 91st tour-level trophy.

”It is finals. Usually these kind of matches are decided by very small margins,” the Serbian said after the match. “One break of serve was enough in both sets. I knew Casper was playing really well coming into this match. We both served really well and I think in some decisive moments, like the 12th game of the first set, I managed to put a few returns back in play.

”I made him run, made him play. I was really pleased with the way I played. I was looking to be very aggressive and it worked great. I am really pleased with the performance.”

Ruud was the first Scandinavian to contest a Nitto ATP Finals championship match since Sweden’s Stefan Edberg. Despite Sunday’s defeat, the Norwegian will finish the season at No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

“To my team, another year has passed on the ATP Tour,” he said at the trophy ceremony. “Thank you to everyone who helps me and pushes me everyday, Without you it would not be possible. It has been a year of many highs, some really big highs. Of course, some lows. I look forward to the next season already.”

After sealing straight-sets semi-final victories on Saturday, both players picked up where they left off in the championship match in Turin, where they hit confidently through their groundstrokes to try and pressure their opponent in some riveting early exchanges. It was Djokovic who remained the greater threat on return, however, and despite letting slip two break point chances in the second game and another in the eighth, he made a decisive move at 6-5 to seal a set in which he struck 14 winners, including six aces.

Despite a similarly tight opening to the second set, Djokovic broke through again on Ruud’s serve in the fourth game as he repeatedly landed his groundstrokes near the baseline. Ruud was unable to dominate rallies with his forehand as Djokovic remained comfortable on serve to seal victory, having struck 31 winners to his opponent’s 17.

Ruud has delivered some strong performances on the big stage in 2022. As well as becoming champion in Buenos Aires, Geneva and Gstaad, the 23-year-old reached his first two Grand Slam finals at Roland Garros and the US Open and his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final in Miami. Yet he could do little to penetrate Djokovic’s rock-solid defence in Turin, where the Serbian also won 85 per cent (33/39) of points behind his first serve.

Another piece of ATP Tour history was made on Sunday. Chair umpire Aurelie Tourte became the first woman to umpire the singles final at the Nitto ATP Finals since the tournament began in 1970.

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Sustainability Is The Name Of The Game At The 2022 Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 20, 2022

Sustainability Is The Name Of The Game At The 2022 Nitto ATP Finals

Nitto offers visitors and guests the chance to contribute towards a more sustainable world

The Nitto ATP Finals Fan Village is a hub where spectators can relax before and after taking in the intense on-court action, but it also provides the opportunity to discover more about title sponsor Nitto’s exciting sustainability initiatives.

Leg-powered and arm-powered energy-generating bikes have been set up in the Nitto booth, encouraging fans to have a go at producing their own power to gain a greater understanding of what is required to generate clean, sustainable energy. The reward for fans who generate five watts of energy on the bikes is a coin to slot into the nearby giant Gashapon for a prize.

One such fan trying out the arm-powered generators at the Nitto booth was Razvan Constantin. The Rafael Nadal fan from Romania was impressed with the energy-generating bikes that demonstrate the importance of electric power.

“It’s interesting, because they produce energy, and it is very good,” said Constantin, who was in the fan village after watching Nadal defeat Casper Ruud at the Pala Alpitour. “It is something new and very good, so why not? You can also [produce electricity] for bulbs for your home and things like this, so it’s very interesting.”

Photo Credit: Siobhan Hennessy
Standing near to the bikes is another attraction set up by Nitto to promote sustainability, the Future Wish Tree. Fans can hang messages on the tree containing their wishes for the future of Earth and society.

For the second consecutive year, the rubbish bins installed at the fan village are powered by solar panels to compress the waste inside and manage their capacity. These bins are revolutionary in terms of efficiency of waste management, and they also contribute to raising awareness of waste separation among fans visiting the venue.

Photo Credit: Siobhan Hennessy
Nitto is spreading the word about sustainability beyond the tournament venue, too. At Turin’s Hotel NH Torino Piazza Carlina, Nitto showcases some of its products being recognised as friendly to the environment and human life. The Nitto Group has a long history of contributing to the improvement of the global environment and society, through customer-oriented innovation.

Now Nitto created a new recognition scheme for its products, which certifies the positive contributions those products offer to the global environment and planet, PlanetFlags™, or to an improvement of people’s lifestyle, HumanFlags™.

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Champions In Turin! Ram/Salisbury Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Title

  • Posted: Nov 20, 2022

Champions In Turin! Ram/Salisbury Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Title

Second seeds clinch ninth tour-level crown

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury suffered championship match heartbreak at the Nitto ATP Finals last season. One year on, the second seeds produced an impressive performance Sunday to ensure they would not fall at the final hurdle again, defeating Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to become undefeated champions in Turin.

In a high-quality final, the American-British tandem was sharp from the first to the last point, overcoming the Croatians 7-6(4), 6-4 to end their season in style in northern Italy.

Salisbury is the first Briton to win the Nitto ATP Finals doubles title, while Ram is the 18th American to clinch the crown. The pair has earned 1,500 Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings points and $930,300 as undefeated champions, the biggest doubles payday in history.

“That’s probably up there with one of our best matches, one of our best matches as a team,” Salisbury said. “I think we’re so proud of everything we’ve done this week. We’ve come through some tough situations, but we’ve stuck together the whole way. [I’m] so happy, I can’t believe we’ve achieved this.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Ram said. “My partner played out of this world today, but I guess that’s what you’ve got to do and that’s why he’s one of the best around. He saves his best for the biggest moments. I’m so proud of us a team for sure.”

Ram and Salisbury, who lost against Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in last year’s final, have now captured nine tour-level titles as a team. In a standout season, the pair lifted ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati, while they lifted their third Grand Slam trophy at the US Open, holding a 37-14 record on the year.

With their 85-minute victory, Ram and Salisbury have improved to 3-4 in their ATP Head2Head series against Mektic and Pavic, having also defeated the fourth seeds in the semi-finals in Turin last year.

Both teams were strong on serve in the first set, with limited opportunities offered up on return as the opener moved to a tie-break. Ram and Salisbury, who saved the only break point of the set at 1-1, increased their depth on return in the tie-break and remained solid overhead, dispatching volleys and smashes to move ahead.

The second seeds then struck immediately at the start of the second set to gain further control, profiting from two double faults from Pavic to break. From there, Ram and Salisbury raced through their service games, winning 84 per cent (16/19) of points behind their first delivery to seal an emotional victory.

“I didn’t think about that too much,” Salisbury said on becoming first British champion at the season finale. “Obviously, that’s a nice thing to achieve, but it was mainly about us a team, the pair of us and everyone that supports us. We’ve got so many people behind us. It’s just a massive team effort and we are just so happy with everything we’ve done this week.”

Ram is the 18th American to win the doubles title at the year-end event, joining Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Peter Fleming, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

“It’s certainly pretty cool,” Ram said when asked about joining the list of American champions. “There’s been so many great American doubles players and so many great players that have won this. It’s an honour to be on that trophy with them for sure.”

Mektic and Pavic were seeking their sixth tour-level title of the year this week in Turin. They triumphed together at an ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, while they also lifted trophies in Geneva, at The Queen’s Club in London, in Eastbourne and Astana.

Mektic was aiming to win his second Nitto ATP Finals crown, having triumphed with Wesley Koolhof in 2020.

“Congratulations to Rajeev and Joe,” Mektic said during the trophy ceremony. “You were really good today. Congratulations and enjoy your moment. I want to also thank Mate and our whole box, we had a great week.”

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Ram/Salisbury, Mektic/Pavic Meet Again For Turin Title

  • Posted: Nov 20, 2022

Ram/Salisbury, Mektic/Pavic Meet Again For Turin Title

Ram/Salisbury won Match Tie-break vs. Croatians in 2021 Turin semis

Four of the Top 8 men in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Live Rankings meet on Sunday in Turin, with storylines aplenty in the Nitto ATP Finals title match.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are seeking to complete unfinished business in their fourth straight appearance at the season finale, while Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic hunt revenge after a semi-final defeat to the American-British duo last year in Turin. Both teams bring perfect 4-0 records on the week into the high-stakes showdown, with the winning team to earn 1,500 Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings points and $930,300 as undefeated champions.


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Ram/Salisbury fell to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the 2021 final, but enter this year’s title tilt full of confidence after defeating top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski in Saturday’s semis to storm into the championship match.

“We are very happy to be through,” Salisbury said after the 7-6(7), 6-4 victory. “I feel we are pretty good at handling whatever any situation we are in. It was tough not closing it out more straightforward in the [first set] tie-break, but we fought hard and got it done eventually. We then stayed focused and played pretty smart and held onto our serve well. We are pretty happy with the performance.”

The second seeds won titles at the US Open and at the ATP Masters 1000s in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati this year, recording a perfect 3-0 record in finals.

Mektic/Pavic advanced to the final with a dramatic 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-6 win against Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara on Saturday evening. The Croatians are looking forward to their opportunity to avenge a 4-6, 7-6(3), 10-4 loss to Ram/Salisbury one year ago at the season finale, the most recent meeting between the pairs.

“I remember in the semis we lost a tough match,” Pavic said. “We didn’t drop our serve, they won in a Match Tie-break, and I am expecting the same thing. They like the court and the conditions. I am looking forward to it. That is why you play, to go on the big stage.”

Mektic is the only one of the four finalists with a Nitto ATP Finals crown in his trophy case, the 33-year-old winning the 2020 title with Koolhof. Together, Mektic/Pavic won five ATP Tour titles this year, their biggest triumph a title defence in Rome. They have won 14 tour-level titles in the past two years, including at Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

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Djokovic, Ruud Chase Milestone Title In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 20, 2022

Djokovic, Ruud Chase Milestone Title In Turin

Djokovic leads ATP Head2Head series 3-0

The star-studded field of eight champions has been trimmed to two at the Nitto ATP Finals, with Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud still standing to contest Sunday’s title match. In addition to the Turin trophy, both men are playing for a major milestone in their respective careers.

Djokovic is seeking his sixth Nitto ATP Finals crown, a mark which would match Roger Federer for the tournament record. The 35-year-old can also become the oldest champion at the season finale, after the then-30-year-old Federer’s London triumph in 2011. By claiming the title as an undefeated champion, Djokovic would walk away with a record payday of more than $4.7 million, as well as 1,500 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points.

Ruud — a nine-time ATP Tour champion — is hunting his first ‘Big Title’ after falling just short in the finals at Miami, Roland Garros and the US Open this year. Already up one place to World No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week, the 23-year-old could return to No. 2 and move within 500 points of Carlos Alcaraz at the pinnacle of the men’s game with another victory.

A victory would set either man up with a strong chance at passing the Spaniard early in the 2023 season, with neither Djokovic nor Ruud defending points at the Australian Open. 

Despite his lofty ranking, Ruud still feels like the underdog against Djokovic, who has moved up three places himself to No. 5 this week in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. The Norwegian has yet to win a set in three previous meetings with the former World No. 1, including a 7-6(4), 6-2 defeat last year in the Turin group stage. But Ruud has high hopes of breaking that trend on Sunday against the reigning Wimbledon champion.

“He’s a player that doesn’t have many weaknesses at all,” he said of his final opponent. “But he is human. He lost two weeks ago to Rune in the [Rolex Paris Masters] final. It’s not like he plays these finals every day of his career, in his life. I’m sure he will also feel a little bit of pressure. There’s a lot on the line.”

Having watched Djokovic win his five previous year-end titles on TV, Ruud is now in position to stop him from gaining No. 6. He will be hoping that fitness becomes a factor, with Djokovic entering his third match in as many days after gruelling contests against Daniil Medvedev and Taylor Fritz.

“He’s played a little bit more tennis than I have,” Ruud said after a dominant 6-2, 6-4 semi-final win against Andrey Rublev. “I don’t know if he will feel tired — probably not. But this is the perfect way for me to go into the final. I hope I can save some of this great tennis for tomorrow and see what happens.”

As he did against Rublev, Ruud will seek to use his high-RPM forehand to dictate the rallies against Djokovic. The Norwegian’s tactics for his semi-final win centred on attacking the Rublev backhand. On Sunday, Djokovic may employ the same game plan against Ruud.

According to the finalists’ INSIGHTS Shot Quality scores — which factor in a variety of metrics to grade strokes on a 10-point scale — the backhand is where Djokovic holds the biggest edge in this matchup. With both men characterised as ‘Solid Baseliners’ by the analysis, the title match will be won by the player who executes that style better on the day.

Shot Quality: Djokovic vs. Ruud

Specific to this week in Turin, the statistics are even more encouraging for Djokovic, with his forehand rated a field-leading 8.91 at the Pala Alpitour. The Serbian also leads the eight Turin qualifiers in Steal Score and Return Quality this week, with Ruud graded second on the forehand and third in Steal rate. 

In addition to stealing 37.1 per cent of points from defence this week, Djokovic has played nearly 25 per cent of his shots In Attack at the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals, and he has converted 73.6 per cent of points in which he has gained an offensive advantage.

Djokovic  Ruud Tour Avg.
In Attack  24.9% 22.5% 23%
Conversion Score 73.6% 71.2% 66%
Steal Score 37.1% 33.1% 34%
Serve Quality 8.47 8.36 7.5
Return Quality 7.59 6.81 6.5
Forehand Quality 8.91 8.54 7
Backhand Quality 7.71 7.62 7.2

All of that has translated to a seventh tour-level final of the season for Djokovic.

“I was looking forward to being in this position,” the seventh seed said after his 7-6(5), 7-6(6) win against Fritz on Saturday. “I’m very happy to be able to compete for another big trophy, one of the biggest ones that we have in our sport.”

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While he admitted to feeling “heavy legs” and a “lack of reactivity” against the American, Djokovic took care of business without his very best tennis. He knows nothing short of excellence will be enough against Ruud in the final.

“I would love to, of course, win the trophy, but I’m not going to be the only player who is going to want that on the court,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference. “Hopefully I’ll be able to play at the level that I’ve played most of the matches this week and get a trophy.”


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It would come as no surprise to see Djokovic ending his season with the title after his strong lead-in to Turin. The Serbian posted a 13-1 record in his past three ATP Tour events, winning trophies in Tel Aviv and Astana before reaching the Rolex Paris Masters Final. His four titles this season also include triumphs at Wimbledon and in Rome.

Ruud’s progress in Turin was less predictable — similar to his breakout season, which the Norwegian has admitted surprised even him. After his run to the US Open final, Ruud slumped to a 2-4 record in four ATP Tour tournaments before rediscovering his form in Turin.

“I think when the draw was made here, I guess I was the least favourite to reach the final; I think I can say for sure, compared to all the other great players who I consider are maybe better hard-court indoor players than myself,” Ruud said after reaching the title match. “There are small margins in this sport. I’ve been able to come through, fight through, be in the final, so I’m very happy about it.”

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Rublev: 'I Hope I Can Take A Great Lesson Out Of This Match'

  • Posted: Nov 20, 2022

Rublev: ‘I Hope I Can Take A Great Lesson Out Of This Match’

The 25-year-old reflects on first semi-final run at season finale

Andrey Rublev suffered a devastating defeat Saturday evening against Casper Ruud in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals. However, the three-time season finale qualifier leaves Turin with a positive attitude.

“Of course, there [are] a lot of positive things to take. I can be grateful for the week. I [made the] semi-final. I was here. We’re the best eight players. All the players are dreaming to play here, and I was part of it,” Rublev said. “The rest of the players, they’re not here, so obviously it’s better to be here and to lose every match than not to be here at all. I did semis for the first time, I’m happy.”

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Rublev entered the clash with a 4-1 ATP Head2Head advantage against Ruud. His only previous defeat to the Norwegian came in a final-set tie-break last year at the Pala Alpitour.

On this occasion, it did not go the 25-year-old’s way. Ruud converted all four of his break points to triumph after 69 minutes.

“I hope I can take a great lesson out of this match. We’ll see. We’ll see. Now I have great time to improve, so we’ll see how it’s going to be for Australia,” Rublev said. “I’m really excited for the next season. I’m motivated, especially now finishing this week being more stable than usual, winning some matches that normally I would not win before.”

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Rublev defeated two former Nitto ATP Finals champions — Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas — to claim his first semi-final berth at the year-end championships. In his first two appearances, Rublev went 1-2 in round-robin play. Ruud was simply too good in the knockout stages.

“I think I started quite well, and then, I don’t know, Casper was just too good. He played really well, really solid. Since the beginning he [played at a] high level. That’s it,” Rublev said. “When I lost my serve, I started to rush a bit. I was trying to play aggressive, rushing. I started to miss more and more.

“It’s tough when he [had], I don’t know, almost 80 per cent first-serve serving 215. It’s tough to do something. Then when the match was almost done, when I managed to relax a bit and I was keep playing aggressive, but I was not rushing, I managed to start to play better. It was too late. But he was too good. Nothing to say.”

SF Highlights: Ruud vs Rublev

The No. 7 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Rublev won 50 tour-level matches for the second consecutive year (51-20) and lifted four trophies in a season for the second time, triumphing in Marseille, Dubai, Belgrade and Gijon. Despite the quiet end to his campaign, Rublev is excited to work towards an even bigger 2023.

“I’m positive,” Rublev said. “And I’m really excited and motivated for the next season.”

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