Entering Rome with two Masters 1000 victories, the 21-year-old Norwegian Casper Ruud has advanced into the semi-final at the second Masters 1000 event of the season. Casper prevailed against Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and 57 minutes, winning the last four points in the tie break to emerge at the top, becoming the first Norwegian player in the Masters 1000 semi-final.
Matteo hit 49 winners and 51 unforced errors, giving his best to prevail and standing two points away from the triumph before falling short. Ruud tamed his strokes nicely, finishing the clash with 28 winners and 23 mistakes, overcoming the fastest rallies deficit and toppling the Italian in the more advanced rallies to cross the finish line.
Casper had better numbers behind both the first and second serve, fending off four out of six break chances and earning two breaks from nine opportunities. The Norwegian hit a double fault in the first game to suffer a break at 15, with Berrettini hitting three straight winners in the second game to fend off a break point and bring it home for 2-0.
Casper held at 15 in game three to get his name on the scoreboard, standing no chances on the return in the next one, as Matteo opened a 3-1 advantage. The Italian erased a break chance in the sixth game with a powerful serve and landing an unreturned serve in game eight for a 5-3 lead.
Casper saved a set point on serve in the ninth game, earning a break chance in the next game that Matteo denied and held with a volley winner at the net for a 6-4. Regaining composure on serve, Ruud sailed through his games in the second set, waiting for a chance on the return patiently.
He stole Berrettini’s serve in the second game after a terrible forehand from the Italian, holding at love to open a 3-0 gap.
Casper Ruud is the first Norwegian player in the Masters 1000 semi-final.
Matteo saved a set point in game eight to prolong the set, only for one game, though, as Ruud held at love for a 6-3 and a boost ahead of the decider.
The Norwegian fired a forehand down the line winner for a break in the first game, forcing Berrettini to chase the result and perform under pressure. Ready to give his everything, Matteo pulled the break back in game six, with both players serving well in the rest of the set to reach a tie break.
Matteo opened a 5-3 lead with a forehand winner, standing close to the finish line. He had an open forehand in the next point that could have pushed him closer to the top, spraying a big error and falling 6-5 behind following two service winners from Casper.
Berrettini netted a forehand in the 12th point, losing the last four points to propel Casper into the semis, facing world no. 1 Novak Djokovic on Sunday.