Playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders, Casper Ruud shrugged off some nervous moments in the first set against the dangerous Alexander Bublik before powering home to a 6-4, 6-0 win to reach the third round of the Rolex Paris Masters Tuesday.

The Norwegian, who claimed his 52nd match win of the season, leads the chasing pack of contenders hunting the final two berths at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be played 14-21 November in Turin.

Bublik is a streaky opponent who is this year’s aces leader (809 coming into Paris-Bercy) according to Infosys ATP stats. So when the Kazakhstani claimed Ruud’s opening service game, the World No. 8 had reason to be concerned.

“I got broken in the first game, which put me under pressure right away because he’s a strong server who can hit some unbelievable returns as well,” Ruud said. “He hits big and got a couple of winners at the beginning and I wasn’t completely ready. But I fought back and played very solid from 3-4 down in the first set.”

Ruud broke World No. 36 Bublik as often as his opponent served aces (six times) and dropped serve just once more himself, winning the final nine games of the match to add a valuable 80 points to his FedEx ATP Race To Turin total. The Norwegian admitted that the dream of playing in Turin has been on his mind, but that he has managed to keep his nerves in check.


“I was a little nervous in the beginning today but I haven’t felt unbelievable pressure. I’m just happy to be in this situation,” said Ruud, who has won five titles this season, a record he shares with Alexander Zverev. “Things are looking good but a lot can happen in the next two weeks.

“So many players behind me are playing well. Sinner has been playing great in recent weeks, Hurkacz is a great indoor player. It’s great to be part of the tight race and in two weeks we will know.”

Ruud will have a day off Wednesday before taking on the winner of Diego Schwartzman and Marcos Giron for a place in the quarter-finals.

More stories like this in:

Source link