Tennis runs in the family for #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud. His father, Christian Ruud, competed on the ATP Tour for 10 years. But on Sunday, Ruud will have the chance to do something that his father couldn’t during his career: win an ATP Tour title.
With his father watching from the stands, the 20-year-old moved into his first ATP Tour final on Saturday at the Fayez & Sarofim Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston. Fighting a stiff neck and the inspired play of Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan, Ruud battled back from 2-5 in the opening set to prevail 7-5, 6-2.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be in your first final. It’s what we work hard for,” said Ruud. “But even though it’s been an amazing week, I’m hungry to win the last match.”
Galan finished his rain-delayed quarter-final earlier in the day over seventh seed Jordan Thompson of Australia and prevailed 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Ruud took a medical timeout after three games against the Colombian to work on his neck and the treatment helped significantly. The Norwegian started opening up the court with his forehand and dictating the baseline rallies to win 11 of the last 13 games.
Ruud has been impressive on clay this season. He reached the quarter-finals in February at the Rio Open presented by Claro and then advanced to the semi-finals at the Brasil Open, allowing him to make his debut inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings. He’ll have a new career-high standing on Monday when he moves inside the Top 70 of the ATP Rankings.
The Ruud father-son duo are the only players from Norway to reach an ATP Tour final. Christian finished runner-up in Bastad in 1995.
Awaiting him in Sunday’s final is Christian Garin, who is also continuing to make his mark on the red clay. The Chilean advanced to his second clay-court final of 2019 after defeating eighth seed Sam Querrey of the United States 7-6(2), 6-2.
Garin won his lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting with Ruud last month in the Sao Paulo semi-finals. Both men are seeking their first ATP Tour title.
“The conditions today were slow and windy, which is really good for me,” said Garin. “I was really focused in the second set and I think he was a bit tired in the end, but I’m playing really well.”
The 22-year-old was two points from dropping the opening set at 5-6, but held serve and raced through the first six points of the tie-break. As Querrey’s forehand betrayed him in the latter stages of the match, Garin remained dominant on serve. The Chilean won 16 of 19 service points in the second set to advance in one hour and 23 minutes.
His road to the final hasn’t been easy. Garin was pushed to three sets in his opening match against Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and saved five match points to defeat second seed Jeremy Chardy of France in the second round. He now looks to become the first Chilean to win an ATP Tour title since Fernando Gonzalez (2009 Vina Del Mar).
Garin reached his first ATP Tour final last month at the Brasil Open (l. to Pella). He also finished 2018 with a flourish by winning three straight ATP Challenger Tour titles in South America. Garin was ranked outside the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings 12 months ago, but is projected to move inside the Top 50 if he can take the title on Sunday.
Gonzalez/Qureshi Upset Bryan Brothers To Reach Final
Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan produced their best tennis this week to defeat top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 6-4, 6-2. Gonzalez/Qureshi also reached the final this year at the New York Open (l. to Krawietz/Mies). They will play fourth seeds Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski of Great Britain in Sunday’s championship match.