Is this the week Casper Ruud captures his first ATP Masters 1000 crown?

The Norwegian produced a dominant performance on Tuesday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he cruised past Serbian Laslo Djere 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.

The 24-year-old arrived in Rome having had a modest season by his standards, falling in the third round and second round in Monte-Carlo and Madrid, respectively. Ruud has looked close to his best so far in the Italian capital, though, dropping just one set to advance to his second tour-level quarter-final of the season.


Ruud dictated against Djere throughout their 70-minute clash, striking his heavy topspin with depth and accuracy to keep the Serbian pinned deep. Ruud committed nine unforced errors and broke Djere five times to improve to 1-2 in their ATP Head2Head series.

“It was a great match from my side,” Ruud said. “It was a tough start. The first point of the match we were rallying for 20 shots and he won it. I thought we were going to be here for a while and I was prepared for a long and tough match. It is always a tough match against Laslo, but it went quicker than I expected. I played really well. To win a first set like this against a player like him who is playing well on clay is a good confidence boost.

“I got the break at 2-2 [in the second set]. I served well and stayed calm and I am very happy with the win.”

Ruud is a two-time semi-finalist in Rome and will aim to reach that stage again when he meets 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo.

The World No. 4, who has advanced to 10 ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finals, lifted his 10th trophy and ninth on clay in Estoril earlier this season.

Cerundolo does not know when he is beaten. The Argentine won a third consecutive match in Rome from a set down on Tuesday when he clawed past home favourite Jannik Sinner 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-2.

The Argentine swung freely throughout the two-hour, 25-minute clash, taking the ball on the rise to pull Sinner into the corners. Cerundolo hit with relentless intensity in the second and third sets to reach his third ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.


Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Cerundolo has now won his past three matches against Top 10 opponents, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in Miami and Casper Ruud in Barcelona. The World No. 4 Ruud will have a chance for revenge when he plays Cerundolo in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Earlier this fortnight, Cerundolo recovered from losing the first set against Yibing Wu and Gregoire Barrere to advance. The Argentine is up three spots to No. 28 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his 17th win of the season.