Casper Ruud will have to wait for his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title after he lost against Holger Rune in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals on Saturday. The Norwegian was happy with his performances in Rome, though, where he earned his best Masters 1000 result of the season.

“Yeah, good feelings overall,” Ruud said. “It was a pity today that I wasn’t able to close out the match, but that’s how it goes. A couple of days ago I could have lost in the third round. I mean, I was very happy to be in the semis. I played some good matches, got some good wins. Hopefully I can build on this further.

“There are two more tournaments on clay now before the grass comes up for me – Geneva and Roland Garros – where last year I have some of the best memories of the year. I hope that I can sort of awaken those memories again and keep building and be strong and fit and ready for Roland Garros.”

The Norwegian, who advanced to the championship match at the clay-court major last year, arrived in Rome off the back of a modest season by his standards. He looked close to his best in the Italian capital, rising nine spots to 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

Ruud led Rune by a set-and-a-break in their semi-final clash on Saturday before the Dane turned it around. The 24-year-old was frustrated he was unable to close out and reach his second ATP Masters 1000 final (Miami 2022).

“It was a well-played match until maybe the third set. I didn’t play too well unfortunately,” Ruud said. “There were some great rallies. Both of us, we can chase down balls. I think we like to run around on clay. I think Holger plays also very aggressively. But he can run and slide around there and defend as well. It was some great rallies.

“I was very happy with the level that we played at for almost two sets. Like I said, the third set was unfortunately poor by me. I’m going to try to erase that from my memory as quickly as possible. There were some great rallies. It was a fun match to play. Also I think I crowd enjoyed it.”


Rune, up one place to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, will play Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas for his second ATP Masters 1000 crown on Sunday. Ruud was full of praise for the 20-year-old.

“I think he plays very fearlessly, takes the ball early, which is really impressive to do on clay,” Ruud said. “It’s not very typical to sort of do too well on clay because you have some wrong bounces and all these things. He did it really well. A couple times I played heavy, he just went on the rise, hit the clean winner back. I think that’s really well done.”

Ruud will next compete in Geneva, where he is the two-time defending champion at the ATP 250 clay-court event.