- What happened? Casper Ruud claimed his second ATP title with a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over Denis Shapovalov at Geneva.
- Why it matters: Ruud is one of the top ATP players on clay, and now owns a 15-4 record on the surface in 2021.
- You might also learn: Why Ruud is serving so well at the moment.
Casper Ruud continues to emerge as one of the top clay-courters on the ATP Tour and a threat to go deep at Roland-Garros in 2021. The Norwegian took another step in that direction with an impressive title run at the Gonet Geneva Open on Saturday, where he powered past Denis Shapovalov, 7-6(6), 6-4 to claim his second ATP title.
Ruud notches his 20th victory of the season and improves his record on his favorite surface to 15-4. He has been a force all spring, reaching semi-finals at Monte-Carlo, Munich and Madrid before his breakout performance at Geneva, where he only dropped one set in four matches.
Ruud: The serve has been a big plus
On Saturday the 22-year-old was pristine on serve, dropping just 12 points overall (26/33 first-serve points won, 22/27 second-serve points won) and never facing a break point.
Ruud says the serve has been a big plus for him since he changed his service motion earlier this year in order to help his shoulder handle the strain of the shot.
“I think it’s been positive in both ways,” said Ruud of the technical adjustment. “It’s helping the arm and body feel better and also I’m serving better. I’m placing the ball better and and I have better pace on the ball, so I think it was a great change and a great improvement. It was an easy change, sometimes the changes can be tougher, but this time it was only to move the ball a little bit further in front.”
Shapovalov was close with Ruud throughout the match, but couldn’t get over the edge in the first-set tiebreaker after getting through the opening set without surrendering a break. He rallied from 6-3 down in the breaker to level, but Ruud took the final two points.
“Obviously in the tiebreaker, I came back to 6-all and he hit a great serve before I dumped a volley, for sure that was big there,” said Shapovalov, before adding: “I think he played more solid than me today, I do think he was better today. He played super clean today. Honestly he didn’t give me anything.”
Shapovalov: It’s not a surprise that I can play well on clay
Despite the loss Shapovalov is upbeat about his chances on the clay at Roland-Garros, where he has never been past the second round in three main draw appearances.
“Obviously I’m playing a lot more relaxed now, and more patient, so for sure I’m playing good on the clay, it was definitely a great week for me,” he said. “I’ve had good results on the clay so I don’t think it’s a surprise that I’m able to play on this surface, it’s more about me coming together with myself, because like I said my game’s been there, I’ve been saying it for the last couple of months. It’s just been a bit more mental, for sure I’ve moved past that and I’m able to just play my game and play the way I know that I can play.”