Casper Ruud struck for Norway at the ATP Cup on Friday, hammering 73 winners against John Isner to earn the first top 20 win of his career.
The 6-7(3), 7-6(10), 7-5 singles victory the opening day tie against the US took nearly three hours, with No. 54 Ruud overcoming 33 aces from the American ranked 19th.
“The match was about as close as you can get, with two tiebreakers,” the winner said. “I did a good job in the second one.
“There were small margins just a couple of points. a few points either was made the difference.
“I’m very happy of course.”
Serving as captain for Norway – last team into the field at the 24-nation event being played in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney – is Ruud’s father Christian, an ATP player back in the day.
“It was good to see him compete, beating Isner was a good experience,” the skipper said.
Casper credited training sessions this week in Western Australia with a taller teammate with helping him get ready for the Isner delivery.
“I concentrated on returns and returned well, I tried to make as many as possible since he comes to the net a lot,” the 21-year-old winner said..
“I was prepared fof this match, it was my first in two months. We have a great team spirit, we were the last team into the ATP Cup.
“We feel very humble to be here; we have a young team and a lot of team spirit.”
- In Brisbane Stafanos Tsitsipas started out on the wrong end of the scoreline, with the No. 6 falling 7-6(6), 7-6(4) to Denis Shapovalov as Canada ran up a winning 2-0 scoreline on opening day of the event.
Felix Auger-Aliassime gave Canada the first point of the day as he thumped unfancied Michail Pervolarakis 6-1, 6-3. Under the rules of the new hybrid competition between 24 nations over three Australian venues, the doubles rubber will be played out in the interest of any eventual tie-breaking statistics.
“It’s always amazing to be part of the team and have kind of a team feeling. It’s pretty rare on the Tour,” Shapovalov said.
“I definitely love it and I always feel like I thrive off that atmosphere. I’m really happy, happy with the result today.”
Tsitsipas came into the 2020 season with a title at the ATP Finals in London over Dominic Thiem, whose Austria side are competing in Sydney.
After the win by his teammate, Shapovalov went to work in controlling Tsitsipas, with the Canadian ranked 15th sending down a dozen aces and 32 winners to improve his record in the series to 3-1.
An off-the-boil Tsitsipas managed just a pair of aces and 19 winners.
“It’s definitely a huge win for me,” the Canadian said.
“He had an unbelievable end to the season and he’s definitely one of the top players in the world right now. He’s got a great game.
“To beat a guy like this in the first match of the year, it’s really special for me. It means a lot.
“It was just a couple points here and there, I just tried to keep playing my game, playing every single point and waiting for my chances.”
Added Tsitsipas: “His serve was better than mine and in a few points in the tie-break, I didn’t work out what I had to do.
“I didn’t have a clear picture of how I have to play. He was did things better than me.”