Norway’s Casper Ruud is on the cusp of his first tour-level hard-court title after a rollercoaster three-set win over Grigor Dimitrov at the San Diego Open Saturday night.
In a classic shotmaking battle that will be remembered as one of the best ATP 250 matches of the season, Ruud needed three breaks of serve in the final set to pull out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win. In the tight third set Ruud’s punishing forehand and edge in confidence – well-deserved after four titles and now 46 match wins on the year – proved decisive.
In Sunday’s final the World No. 10 will face left-handed Briton Cameron Norrie, who also is enjoying his breakout year on Tour and, like Ruud, is in contention to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin 14-21 November.
“Playing Grigor you have to play well from all corners of the court and run well as he can hit winners from everywhere,” Ruud said. “He’s one of the toughest guys to play on Tour as he has all the shots in the bag. I tried to hang in there and I won the couple of important points that in the end gave me the win.
“It was high level from the first point to the last. I’m happy to be in my first hard-court final.”
2021 Match Wins Leaders
Neither player was entirely comfortable on serve throughout the match, which featured 11 breaks of serve, including four consecutive breaks at the start of the third set. Afte twice rallying from a break down, Dimitrov blinked in the 3-all game in the decider when, after leading 30/0, he overcooked a bounce smash to open the door for Ruud, who won four consecutive points to claim the decisive break.