BARCELONA: World number six Casper Ruud defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-3 to win the Barcelona Open on Sunday, the biggest title of his career.

The Norwegian earned revenge after his defeat by the Greek world number seven in the Monte Carlo Masters final last weekend.

Ruud, a three-time Grand Slam runner-up, had won 10 titles at 250 level with the 500-ranked clay-court event in Barcelona his 11th career triumph.

“For me it means a lot, this is my biggest title that I ever won in my career, it’s something I’ve chased for a long time already,” Ruud told Teledeporte.

“I’ve never won a 500 before or a 1000, I’ve been to a few finals but always came up a little bit short.

“I didn’t start great during the match but luckily I was able to come back in and play really well in the end of the first and the second set.”

The 25-year-old leads the tour with 29 wins this year but had lost in three finals before wrapping up his first title of 2024 when Tsitsipas, who lacked his usual spark, went long.

“The last six, seven months I’ve taken a few steps in the right direction in my game and I’m glad it’s paying off,” added Ruud.

Ruud conceded a break in the opening game, which Tsitsipas consolidated for 2-0, giving the chance of a repeat of his first-set collapse in the Monte Carlo final.

However Ruud stayed calm and broke back in the sixth game with a passing shot the Greek could not control.

The Norwegian brought up two set points at 6-5 up, clinching it with a break when Tsitsipas erred at the net.

Two-time Grand Slam runner-up Tsitsipas slapped a forehand into the net to concede the first break of the second set and Ruud then held to open up a 4-1 lead.

Tsitsipas saved two break points in the sixth game to give himself a chance of a comeback, but could not match Ruud’s energy after two draining three-set matches in his run to the final.

Ruud’s 91-minute victory ended a 10-match winning streak for Tsitsipas.

“I wasn’t playing my best tennis this week in Barcelona... throughout the whole week I didn’t feel like my shots had the same effect as they did in Monte Carlo,” said Tsitsipas.

“Today it felt like I didn’t have the mental capacity to even fight. Even if I wanted to push myself to fight, Casper was just too good today.”

Tsitsipas blamed the Catalan clay for taking the edge off his shots but said the courts at the Madrid Open where he will compete next week are a better fit for his game.

“The environment in Madrid has shown in the past that it suits me and it’s a place I can play well if I’m in the right mindset and committed to the game,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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