Casper Ruud credits strong first serve with helping him oust Denis Shapovalov

ATP Tour
Casper Ruud celebrates

Casper Ruud felt that his service game served him well in his Italian Open quarter-final win over Denis Shapovalov.

Ruud advanced to his first European clay-court semi-final of the season when he downed Shapovalov 7-6(7), 7-5 on Friday afternoon.

After early exits in Monte Carlo and Madrid, Ruud was determined to make the most of his opportunity to get to the weekend in Rome.

”I think one of the most important things on clay is to put a lot of first serves in. Today was working well,” Casper Ruud said. “I was serving well all match. At the beginning you are sometimes a bit nervous and excited to start, but after that I was able to calm down and find my tempo.”

Ruud was especially keen to be accurate and clinical given how much of a weapon Shapovalov’s serve is.

“You always feel the nerves a little bit extra on break points, especially against a big server such as Shapo,” Casper Ruud added. “It is not easy to get a break against him, so you need to take the chances you have and the one I got was enough to seal the second set.”

Ruud advances to the semi-finals in Rome for the second time in his career having enjoyed a run to the last four the last time he visited the Italian capital in 2020.

The Norweigian now leads Shapovalov 2-0 in their head to head, having defeated the Canadian in the Geneva championship match last season which was their only previous meeting.

Ruud won his first title of the season on clay in Buenos Aires in February and will be aiming to win first ATP Masters 1000 crown this week.

The World No 10 reached the final in Miami earlier this season but lost out to Carlos Alcaraz.

Shapovalov enjoyed success moving forward in a tight opening set, winning 9/11 points at the net as he put Ruud under pressure.

However, the fifth seed, stuck to his guns and also received some good fortune when a net cord strike at 7/7 in the tie-break gave him his second set point.

He saved one set point on serve at 4-5 in the second stanza and then converted his ninth break point in a mammoth 14-minute game at 6-5 that proved decisive.

Ruud then held his nerve and his serve to secure the victory. He will face either Novak Djokovic or Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last four.