Casper Ruud started the 2022 season with just one Grand Slam appearance that lasted until the fourth round anywhere and was determined to improve his record at the four most important events in tennis.
Then, a day before the start of the Australian Open in January, he twisted his ankle in practice and had to withdraw. Barely ideal. Watch it now: Ruud is in the semi-finals at the US Open and has a chance to rise to No. 1 in the ATP rankings, after a run to the final at Roland Garros.
The 23-year-old Norwegian, who is coached by his father, former professional player Christian, turned what he called ‘a best start I’ve ever had in a game before’ to a 6-1, 6 -4, 7 -6 (4) victory over 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals under a closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium on a rainy Monday.
“During Paris something clicked, and I feel like this year I kind of figured out the best way to play five sets and know that it’s very different to play best of three sets. ..Sometimes realizing, or knowing, that you can kind of skip a set now and then to save energy for the rest of the sets,” said No. 5 seed Ruud. so think I’ve matured and learned to play five sets better than last year.”
He improved to 12-2 in Grand Slam competition in 2022 after committing just two unforced errors in the first set, 11 fewer than No.13 Berrettini.
“It all went (in) my favor,” Ruud said. “I was hitting all the spots, all the shots I needed.”
Berrettini’s view: “After 20 minutes I was (down) 5-0. I don’t really know how. I don’t know what happened.
Ruud will now face the winner of Tuesday night’s quarter-final between Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios – who knocked out defending champion Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round – and No.27 Karen Khachanov.
With Medvedev gone, he will drop from No. 1 in the men’s rankings on Monday, and three players have a chance to replace him: Ruud, Rafael Nadal (who lost in the fourth round to Frances Tiafoe on Monday) and No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz (who faces Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals on Wednesday).
“It’s still a long way off, I think, but of course it’s good that it’s possible. And Casper has a bit of motivation in that spirit,” said Christian Ruud, “because even when he was little, his ultimate goal was to be No. 1 in the world.
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This story was originally published September 6, 2022 8:09 p.m.