Casper Ruud maintained a perfect 2-0 Green group record on Tuesday at the ATP Finals, with his 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) defeat of Taylor Fritz knocking Rafael Nadal out of contention for year-end No. 1 ranking honours.
The win ensures Ruud of a Saturday semi-final place at the Pala Alpitour arena as the first to move through.
The victory took two and a quarter hours, with the winner striking 14 aces to 15 for Fritz, playing the event for the first time.
In the deciding tiebreaker, Fritz fought back from 5-1 down to level at 6-all, with Ruud squeezing out the win on his third match point.
“It was back and forth,” the winner said. “You think you have it won at 5-1 and he comes back.
I started well, as I knew I had to but he stepped it up in the second set.
“I was lucky at 6-all in the breaker with a net-roller (ball which brought on a match point).
“It’s a tiebreaker, so what can I say, there are very thin margins indoors. It was a tough battle but it went my way today.
“I’m happy to be in the semi-final again and I can’t wait for the next matches.”
The Norwegian, who reached the semis in 2021 in his debut, needed to win just one set to ensure Spanish teen Carlos Alcaraz of the top ranking sport for the season.
The 19-year-old – missing this event through injury – will be the youngest ever to hold the year-end top ATP status.
It remains doubtful whether Nadal will front up for his last meaningless group match on Thursday against Ruud. The Spaniard, though, has an exhibition series scheduled for next week in Mexico City and South America.
He lost his second match here earlier, going down 6-3, 6-4 to Felix Auger-Aliassime.