It was a test of will-power, patience and grit the one that Casper Ruud and Francisco Cerundolo put on the Campo Centrale of the Foro Italico today. Their quarter-final match was played on a very physical and mental level, with both players opting for a tactical, yet very consuming game of baseline wearing. Each tried to play on the other’s weakness, producing long rallies and short breathing, but not always the most spectacular tennis.
The Norwegian eventually took the match in two sets, 7-6(5) 6-4 having had to fight against the uncertainties that are causing a few too many losses lately, including a recent upset caused by today’s opponent no longer than a few weeks ago in Barcelona.
Ruud started the more focused and with a clearer idea of what he wanted to do tactically and it paid off: he had break points in the first service game of his opponent, eventually breaking him on the next chance to go up 4-1. Cerundolo fought back and exploiting a few mistakes too many from the Norwegian, he caught him on 4-all and then the game went on serve until the tiebreak.
The Argentine was the first to get a mini-break, but the world number 4 had other plans: he found glimpses of his “old” self and imposed his rhythm to the rallies to take the set home.
The fight continued in the second set, with Cerundolo trying to break away in the early games, but the Norwegian immediately closed the gap and finally improved his serve stats, saving only one more break point with a second serve ace. Despite having numerous chances, Ruud finally broke in the 9th game and eventually closed the match in the following service game.
Ruud will now face Holger Rune, who upset Novak Djokovic earlier today, in a Scandinavian match-up for a place in the final of Sunday.