Casper Ruud continued his strong 2020 run on clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Saturday, beating fourth seed Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) in Rome.
The Norwegian landed 20 forehand winners to improve to 12-2 on the surface this year after nearly three hours on Pietrangeli. During February’s Golden Swing, Ruud reached two finals from three clay events. The 21-year-old captured his maiden ATP Tour crown in Buenos Aires and finished as a runner-up in Santiago.
Ruud improves to 2-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against the Italian. The Oslo native claimed a straight-sets victory against Berrettini at Roland Garros last year. Berrettini earned his only victory against Ruud two weeks ago at the US Open.
Ruud has played well throughout this week against taller opposition. The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier upset 6’6” Karen Khachanov in the first round and claimed back-to-back straight-sets victories against 6’3” Lorenzo Sonego and 6’6” Marin Cilic to reach the last eight.
By advancing to the semi-finals, Ruud has improved on his father’s best ATP Masters 1000 run. Christian Ruud reached his only quarter-final at the level at the 1997 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Corretja).
Berrettini was attempting to become only the second Italian to reach the semi-finals in Rome since 2000. Filippo Volandri, a semi-finalist in 2007, is the only player to achieve the feat this century.
Ruud will aim to reach his first Masters 1000 final when he faces Novak Djokovic or Dominik Koepfer on Sunday. The World No. 34 has not met Djokovic or Koepfer at tour-level.
Berrettini overpowered Ruud with strong serving and aggressive forehands to establish a 3-1 advantage in the first set. The Italian showcased impressive touch as he attempted to shorten points, with Ruud committing only six unforced errors in the opener. Serving at 5-4, Berrettini moved to the net to close out the first set after 54 minutes.
After failing to convert three break points in the opening set, Ruud took his first opportunity in the second set. The Buenos Aires champion struck multiple forehand winners and took advantage of forehand errors from his opponent en route to a 3-0 lead. Ruud continued to dictate rallies with his forehand and extracted a backhand error from Berrettini to force a deciding set. Ruud fired nine forehand winners in the second set.
Ruud carried his momentum into the third set, breaking serve in the opening game. The Norwegian played with angles to open the court and struck a forehand winner up the line to take the lead for the first time. After falling behind in the score, Berrettini took the initiative and moved to the net to break Ruud for the first time since the opening game of the match.
In the tie-break, Ruud recovered from 2/4 down to claim victory. The Norwegian played with patience from the baseline to extract errors and served well under pressure to earn his 17th victory of the year (17-7).