Casper Rudd advanced to the European clay court semi-finals of the season on Friday, defeating Canadian Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7), 7-5 in. BNL International for Italy.
The Norwegian has arrived in Rome after a disappointing early exit at the ATP Masters 1000 events in Monte Carlo and Madrid. However, the fifth seed has regained his best form in the Italian capital, with a solid and comprehensive victory against Shapovalov who set up a round-of-four confrontation with world number one Novak Djokovic or Felix Auger-Aliassime.
In a tight match on Center Court, Rudd saved one point in the first set of the tiebreak 5/6 and then another 4-5 serve in the second set before passing world number 16 Shapovalov in two sets. 1 hour and 19 minutes.
“I think one of the most important things on clay is getting a lot of first strikes,” Rudd said. “Today he was doing really well.” “I was serving well throughout the match. At first you are sometimes a bit nervous and excited to start, but then I was able to calm down and find my rhythm.”
It is the second time that the 23-year-old has qualified for the semi-finals in Rome after enjoying the same stage in his previous appearance in 2020.
Ruud, who reached the quarter-finals on clay in Barcelona and Munich in April, now leads the 13th seed 2-0 in the ATP Head2Head Series, having defeated Shapovalov in the Geneva Championship match last season.
Rudd lifted the trophy in Buenos Aires in February, and is aiming for his eighth Tour Championship title this week but his first ATP Masters 1000 title. The world’s top 10 reached the final in Miami earlier this season.
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In a tight opening set, Shapovalov took a hit as he ran forward, winning a 9/11 point at the net as he put Rudd under pressure. However, the fifth seed, with 10 winners in the set, stuck with his task and picked up a big slice of luck with a net rope at 7/7 in the tiebreak, giving him the second set point.
Rudd made full use of his serve to lead before continuing to play more consistent tennis in the second set. He saved one point on serve at 4-5 and then converted his ninth break point in a massive 14-minute match to lead 6-5. Then Rod got on his nerves to serve for victory.
“You always get a little more nervous at the stops, especially against a big server like Shapo,” Rudd said. “It’s not easy to get a break against him, so you have to take the chances that you have and the one you got was enough to close the second set.”
Shapovalov beat Rafael Nadal on his way to the quarter-finals, as he was trying to maintain his perfect record in the quarter-finals of the Masters 1000, having entered Friday’s match 5-0 at that point.