The Norwegian reclaimed eighth spot following his first tour-level title on hard courts at the San Diego Open, where he breezed past Cameron Norrie 6-0, 6-2 on Sunday. It gave Ruud a tour-leading fifth trophy for the season and a timely reminder his best was not confined to clay with a month still left to book a passage to the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
“I know that now I will jump up to eighth and it’s fun because Jannik [Sinner] and Hubert are the closest guys behind me,” Ruud said. “Within these two weeks we’ve all won a tournament so it’s a strong competition now. I think us three are the closest to capturing the last two spots.”
Hurkacz – who captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Miami in April – snuck above the 22-year-old a week ago, following his third tour-level title of the season in Metz. It made for a short turnaround as the Pole headed Stateside for the San Diego Open, where he fell in the second round to Aslan Karatsev, No. 12 in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin.
Following his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in New York – a run which eventual champion Daniil Medvedev ended – Felix Auger-Aliassime catapulted into contention. Like Ruud, Hurkacz and Sinner, the 21-year-old’s eyes are firmly fixed on a Nitto ATP Finals debut. But at the weekend he was displaced by fellow #NextGenATP rival Sinner for 10th spot.
Top seed Sinner defeated Gael Monfils to defend his ATP 250 title in Sophia less than 24 hours before Ruud’s title run across the Atlantic. With seventh-placed Rafael Nadal out for the remainder of the season, it will be a fiercely contested battle for what shapes as two final berths in Turin.
Ruud Rolls Past Norrie In San Diego For Tour-Leading Fifth Title Of 2021
“Obviously there are some big events that will be played now – Indian Wells, there’s 1000 points on the line – also Paris and Vienna,” Ruud said. “There is no way I can kind of relax and think that I will make it because I have to try to think that Hubert and Jannik can both do really well, so I have to do the same.
“I think that’s how it should be. It should be a strong competition and whoever gets there in the end, deserves it more. It’s as simple as this. This win really helps me and in a part of the year where previously I haven’t done too well… I think they should play San Diego more times in October in future years.”
Ruud’s 2,925 points currently leaves him 1,030 points behind sixth-placed Matteo Berrettini in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. As he prepares for the short trip to join his remaining race contenders in the Californian desert this week, only 605 points separate him and 11th-placed Auger-Aliassime.
“I’m looking forward to playing [Indian Wells] as a main draw player [for the first time],” Ruud said. “As a seeded player I will have a bye and I will take the time now to recover and recharge the batteries and go full for Indian Wells.”