Ruud Captures San Diego Open Title

Casper Ruud (photo: ATP Video)

SAN DIEGO/WASHINGTON, October 4, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

World No. 10 Casper Ruud came to play – and played to win. Boy, did he sure win.

During the inaugural ATP 250 San Diego Open at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif., the 22-year-old Norwegian lost just one set all week and beat some formidable opponents – Andy Murray, No. 9 seed Lorenzo Sonego and Grigor Dimitrov – to earn a berth in Sunday evening’s title match against 28th-ranked Cameron Norrie of Great Britain.

Meanwhile, Norrie beat three straight seeded opponents, No. 8 Dan Evans, No. 4 Denis Shapovalov and top seed Andrey Rublev – his third career Top 10 win and second win over a Top 5 this year – to earn his place in the final against Ruud, in their first career head-to-head meeting.

During the length of their 61-minute final, not only did Ruud bagel his British opponent to win the opening set, he surrendered just two games the entire match and easily garnered a 6-0, 6-2 victory to capture his ATP Tour-leading fifth title this season. It was his first title on a hard court after winning four titles on clay earlier this year – including three in a row at Bastad, Gstaad and Kitzbuhel. Before 2021, Ruud had won just one title on the ATP Tour. So, this has certainly been a breakout year for him. His victory over Norrie improved his win-loss record this season to 47-12.

“Special thanks to Rod, obviously the legend,” Ruud said during the trophy ceremony, in reference to Hall of Fame great and San Diego-area resident Rod Laver, who presented him with the champion’s trophy. “I think you need to come to all my matches now because I’m playing really good when you come and watch.”

Ruud was part of last week’s winning Team Europe at the Laver Cup in Boston, Mass., in which Laver attended as well. “I hope you will come to Indian Wells next week to watch, so let’s see what happens there.”

Against Norrie, Ruud won 71 percent (29 of 41) of his service points and backed it by capturing 58 percent (21 of 36) of his return points. It all added up to a 50-27 advantage in total points for Ruud, who also converted five of six break-point opportunities.

Ruud’s title triumph in San Diego means he will move into eighth place in the FedEx ATP Race to Turin, in which the top eight players qualify for the upcoming Nitto ATP Finals at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, from Nov. 14-21. Now, it’s on to Indian Wells, where Ruud is projected to be the seventh seed.

Salisbury and Skupski win San Diego Open doubles title

Top seeds Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski, both from Great Britain, defeated No. 3 seeds John Peers of Australia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 10-5 to win the San Diego Open doubles title.

Earlier Sunday, Skupski’s brother, Ken, teamed with Jonny O’Mara to win the Sofia Open doubles crown in the Bulgarian capital city.

“I think I had just woken up when I saw the result, but it was a nice feeling to start the day off with that win,” Neal said of his brother Ken’s title victory. “For him to come back and bounce back and win a tournament in Sofia, it’s great.”

Although they are not regular full-time partners, they’ve done well when the opportunity has presented itself. They’re 10-1 in three tour-level appearances together. In 2018, they won an ATP 500 trophy in. Vienna, Austria. Overall, Salisbury, who regularly teams with Rajeev Ram and recently won this year’s US Open crown, has won eight ATP Tour tour-level titles while Skupski has won six.

“It’s been an amazing week,” Skupski said. “We’ve really enjoyed San Diego. Me and Joe, off the court we’re good friends and I think we gel together on the court. We’ve really enjoyed playing with each other this week.”

Added Salisbury: “Obviously, a great week for us. Going into it the goal was to win the tournament, but we didn’t know what to expect. We hadn’t played together for three years. We maybe played our best tennis at the end of some of the matches, which is great. Really happy to get the title.”