Casper Ruud is proving that he is more than just a “clay court player”, according to Eurosport’s Barbara Schett, who was most impressed by his performance in the 6-1 6-4 7-6(4) victory over Matteo Berrettini in the US Open quarter-final.
The 23-year-old, who is bidding to win his first Grand Slam and is also fighting to keep his No. 1 hopes alive, was excellent on return as he brushed aside Berrettini in straight sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The Norwegian has won eight of his ATP Tour singles titles on clay courts, but his deep run at the US Open suggests that he can be equally as efficient on the hard court.
“It was unbelievable tennis, especially with the forehand,” said Schett when analysing his victory.
“He could pretty much do anything today, and he had all the answers to the questions. People always reduced him to a clay court player, but he certainly proved today that he’s not only playing great tennis on clay court.”
Mats Wilander admitted that Ruud’s level of performance has taken him by surprise.
“For a set and a half he looked like he couldn’t do anything wrong,” said Wilander.
“He picked the right return position. He often picked the right return to get back in play and like you say, when the ball is in play, Casper Ruud’s forehand today is actually better than Berrettini’s.
“A lot of that has to do with the movement. He was able to move Matteo from left to, right. And just an amazingly strong effort by Casper.
“He’s showing me that he has a level of tennis in him on this surface, that I wasn’t sure existed in its game. But wow, he’s playing unbelievable.”
Alex Corretja was equally impressed, describing Ruud’s display as “pretty amazing”.
“Ruud was blocking most of the serves from Berrettini, it impressed me so much,” he said.
“He was blocking, put the return in and then won the point 60 per cent of the time. It’s pretty amazing because the balls that Berrettini was serving were huge. To beat Berrettini in straight sets here is such a difficult job.
“He was moving well and he was very convincing. We didn’t know about the conditions because the roof is on today. So, it was a little bit of a question mark to see who it favours.
“But Casper was hitting so well, so precise. I liked the way he was moving his wrist with the forehand because [it was] making Matteo move side to side from the back of the course. So I feel like for Matteo it was difficult to find a way to play.”
DAY TO FORGET FOR BERRETTINI
It was a tough day for Berrettini, who gave himself a mountain to climb after losing 11 of the first 13 games and eventually found himself two sets down before finally making a fight of it in the third set.
“I think he had the best start possible, and I helped him,” reflected the Italian.
“He played a really good match, and I played a really bad match.
“Really nothing I can say more than the worst day of the tournament probably in the most important moment. Nothing today. I mean, I fought through, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t feeling my game. I wasn’t feeling my mindset. I think he was feeling really good.
“Congrats to him. I told him. He also said he played unbelievable match. He was playing really good, but I was playing not really good (smiling).
“I was really bad. I didn’t check my percentage of serve. I didn’t check, like, the stats, but my game wasn’t there. Obviously when you are up a break and a player like him that is really solid, he started to take confidence, as well, he started hitting even stronger and harder.
“I actually started to, at the end of the second [set], put more energy in what I was doing, even though I felt like not really good. I fought through, and he played a little bit worse. You have to find the balance between the energy and the game.
“Even when I was up 5-2 I wasn’t feeling that great, and I think you could see it in the next games. When you are feeling like that, the only thing you can do, you have to fight. That’s what I tried to do. But I guess it wasn’t enough.
“I don’t know what happened. I’m gonna let pass few days, and then I’m gonna think about what happened. Now is too soon. But something happened, and I’m really not happy about it.”