Ruud Survives All-Scandinavian Battle In Kitzbühel

Casper Ruud (photo: Brigitte Urban)

KITZBÜHEL, July 29, 2021 (by Dietmar Kaspar)

Thursday’s quarterfinal action at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel, Austria, was headlined by the clash between the tournament’s top favourite Casper Ruud and his fellow Scandinavian Mikael Ymer.

Twenty-two-year Ruud from Norway and his Swedish opponent of the same age know each other well from playing junior’s level since Under-14 competitions. Unseeded Ymer, who captured all of his four ATP Challenger titles in 2019, had the better start in the match, gaining the first set. After saving one match point at the score of 4-5 in the second set, Oslo-born Ruud pushed the match the distance by winning the tie-break. Scoring the same number of points like his rival, the son of former tennis professional Christian Ruud prevailed 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 after two hours and 28 minutes.

“It was definitely a difficult match. Mikael is a smart player and he moves great, so you have to play every point very well. Almost for two sets I was not able to do that, so he was the better player for the beginning of the match. Only one point decided the match and that’s how it is sometimes”. I feel of course sorry for him, he was so close for the win, but not always prevails the better player,” World No. 14 Ruud said in his press conference.

Next up for the top seed, who clinched his fourth ATP career title in Gstaad last week, will be Arthur Rinderknech.

Earlier in the day, the Frenchman defeated the tournament’s No. 3 Filip Krajinovic from Serbia. The former college player for Texas A&M University, who captured three titles on the ATP Challenger Tour, broke his 29-year-old opponent four times to seal victory with 6-4, 6-1 in 79 minutes. After four appearances in ATP quarterfinals, the 26-year-old booked his first spot in a semi-final.

From the beginning of the match, I tried to impose my game to him and put him under pressure with my weapons as much as possible. Slowly but surely, I took the lead of the match as the score shows it, so I am happy about my win,” the World No. 91 told the press.

Rinderknech commented on his good results on different surfaces: “I grew up on clay actually and my aggressive game was well developed there when I was a junior. Then I went to the states to compete on hard court for some years, so I found the balance.”

Altmaier remains successful

Daniel Altmaier from Germany is still on a great run of form. Following his win in the stage of the last 16 in Umag last week, the 22-year-old again defeated Gianluca Mager from Italy. In a topsy-turvy encounter with Altmaier leading 6-1, 4-1 with a double break, 26-year-old Mager fought back to go for the decider.

World No. 135 Altmaier converted five of his 12 break-point chances to succeed 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 after two hours and 32 minutes. The Kempen-born, who clinched his maiden ATP Challenger trophy on home soil in Braunschweig three weeks ago without dropping a set, booked a back-to-back semi-final on the ATP Tour.

After losing the second set in spite of having such a comfortable lead, I composed myself to control whatever is possible. This is a useful experience I will never forget in my life. It was phenomenal to compete in front of such a fair and tennis-enthusiastic crowd,” Altmaier said in the press conference.

In December I had a great preparation for this season when I practiced so hard for four weeks. I had a good feeling to beat the good guys on Tour. At the beginning of the year, I had setbacks with a Covid-19 infection and a shoulder injury, so I was not able compete at tournaments, especially the first two Grand Slam events. But I stayed mentally strong and now I am back on track.”

Unseeded Altmaier, who entered the tournament by special exempt, will oppose Pedro Martinez in the stage of the final four. 

The Spaniard opened today’s Center Court action against Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik, who was seeking his third appearance in an ATP-Tour semi-final after reaching the last four at the tournaments in Bastad and Hamburg in 2018. Twenty-four-year-old Martinez capitalized on five of his 11 break-point opportunities and dropped one service game to claim a 6-2, 6-2 victory in 88 minutes. The World No. 97, who clinched two titles on the ATP Challenger Tour, advanced to the semis of an ATP event for the first time.

I felt really good and tried to bring my energy on the court. My opponent did not play as good as in the last days, so I am happy about my fast win today,” Martinez said in his on-court interview and added about his upcoming opponent: “Daniel is in good rhythm and has won a lot of matches in the last weeks, so it will be a tough challenge”.

Coming up

Semi-final singles action in Kitzbühel will start not before 12:30 a.m. local time following the first doubles-semifinal with local heroes Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler, which starts at 11:00 a.m.