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It may seem strange to be talking about clay court tennis at this point in the season. But putting the schedule aside, we are still being treated to some fantastic tennis prior to the ‘American swing’. And if you tuned in for the finals of Gstaad yesterday, you will have witnessed an epic between Ruud and Berrettini. The big-hitting Italian had been enjoying a sensational tournament up until the finals. Because of that, many believed that he would smoke Casper Ruud in the finals. But clearly, Casper Ruud had other ideas.
The French Open finalist managed to squeeze past Berrettini in a tight three-setter. And in a little over 2 and a half hours, Ruud captured the ATP 250 title in Gstaad by a score of 6-2 in the third. This was actually the 5th time that these guys had played each other. And thanks to this win, Ruud has now taken a 3-2 head-to-head lead against the talented Italian. In fact, 4 of the 5 matches that these guys have played against each other have been on clay.
Anyway, this was a super intriguing match to watch, and it was highly enjoyable. And below, I’ve given my insights as to how Ruud was able to beat Berrettini for the third time in his career.
Casper’s Intelligent Tennis to Trump Matteo Berrettini
I must admit, I didn’t fancy Ruud’s chances going into the final given the way in which Berrettini had been playing all week. But when all is said and done, he came away with the victory. And for me, there were three clear areas where Ruud excelled to secure the win:
Remove the Deadly Berrettini Forehand
Everyone on the tour knows how dangerous the Berrettini forehand can be. In fact, he showed this all week long with devastating wins against guys such as Martinez, Thiem, and Gasquet. This is actually the biggest weapon of Berrettini’s game, in my opinion. But Ruud managed to take this out of the equation many times, mainly by hitting heavy to the backhand or getting him off-balance if he did go into the forehand corner. Sure, there were times when Berrettini put the hammer down, but this was almost unavoidable.
Neutralize the Serve
I’ve spoken about the forehand being such a huge weapon for Berrettini. But putting the forehand to one side, his serve is obviously massive as well. The only saving grace for Ruud is that the clay courts kind of take the sting of the big servers like Berrettini, to a certain extent anyway. And even when Berrettini did strike a heavy first serve or a lively second, Ruud was able to pin him back to the baseline and neutralize the point.
Play to His Strengths
Of course, Casper Ruud is one of the top clay court players at the current moment. He made the finals of the French and he already has several tournament victories on clay. And a key aspect behind the win yesterday was that he managed to get his own strengths into play. This was obvious through the angles he was finding on the groundstrokes, the heavy corner shots that he used to pin Berrettini back, and through clever use of drop shots when Berrettini was deep in the court.
All in all, it was a win well deserved for Casper Ruud.