Ruud Earns Revenge In Rome, Ousts Cerundolo For SF Spot | ATP Tour

Casper Ruud continued his Rome resurgence on Wednesday evening.

The fourth seed defeated 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The Norwegian has advanced to the last four at the Foro Italico in three consecutive appearances and will next face Holger Rune, who upset Novak Djokovic earlier in the day.

“I’m just very happy to play good tennis and be in the semi-finals,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “It’s going to be a very, very fun one, hopefully.”

Ruud stepped onto centre court having lost two consecutive matches against Cerundolo, including a straight-sets defeat just weeks ago in Barcelona. But the 24-year-old earned revenge on the Roman clay after two hours and five minutes.

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The 2022 Roland Garros finalist has rounded into form in recent weeks. He claimed his first ATP Tour title of the season in Estoril and is now two victories from earning his first ATP Masters 1000 title.

“Tennis is a strange sport, as we all can tell. And I think I’ve really lived through it the last 12 months or so, some of my best moments of my career and some tougher losses in the past couple of months,” Ruud said. “But here we are back in Rome and I feel great. I know that I’ve had success in Italy before in my career, here [I made] two times [the] semi-finals, Turin last year was amazing for me… It’s something in the food maybe, I don’t know.”

Cerundolo made him work hard for his triumph on the Italian clay. Both players made plenty of unforced errors — 28 for Ruud and 47 for Cerundolo — as they attempted to find an edge in rallies.

The players were largely content to battle from behind the baseline, lacing heavy balls back and forth. Ruud earned more opportunities on return, with 14 break points, but Cerundolo saved 11 of them.

After squeaking through a tight tie-break, Ruud made the critical move at 4-4 in the second set. Cerundolo missed an aggressive inside-out forehand wide and the Norwegian served out his victory.

The fourth seed will next face Rune, against whom he owns a 4-0 ATP Head2Head advantage. Their most recent clash came in last year’s Roland Garros quarter-finals.

“He’s improved so much. I played him a couple times in 2021 and a couple of times in 2022, and his improvement is just really, really good,” Ruud said. “You can see that his confidence is good on court and [he] really deserves [to be] where he is at the moment.

“He has big goals for his career and is going through one goal by another so I’m just going to try to think about what I’ve done well against him before — I have a winning record against him. Tennis is always open, it’s never over until it’s over, and I’m just going to try to fight.”

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