Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud are two players accustomed to occupying a place inside the ATP’s Top 10. Tsitsipas in particular, who dropped out this week for the first time since breaking into the upper echelon on March 4, 2019.

On Friday, the two found themselves dueling at the Mifel Tennis Open in a Los Cabos matchup between the 11th-ranked and 12th-ranked competitors. Battling for the first time since 2021 Toronto, Ruud prevailed, 6-4, 7-6 (4), denying his rival five set points to win his ninth match from 10 contested so far this season—all on hard courts.

“It was a really close match, all in all. Especially the second set, I was fortunate to save a few set points there and hold him off. The tie-break, I played really well from the beginning,” Ruud reflected on court.

Tsitsipas came in as the reigning champion with the prior edition staged in early August last year. He has now dropped four successive semifinal contests since that title run.

Ruud is 10-8 lifetime in tour-level finals (9-5 on clay, 1-3 on hard).

Ruud is 10-8 lifetime in tour-level finals (9-5 on clay, 1-3 on hard).


At 3-3, 30-30, Tsitsipas double-faulted long to hand Ruud the first break point of the evening. The three-time major finalist converted when Tsitsipas caught his forehand late to produce an unforced error. Ruud was lights out at the line, winning all 14 of his first-serve points in the opening set.

More of the same from Ruud saw him keep pace with the No. 2 seed in tacking on another nine of 10 points off his first serve to launch set two. But as his first serve increasingly eluded him, it enabled Tsitsipas to put the Norwegian under pressure. The only problem: Tsitsipas couldn't finish points when he most needed.

In the eighth game, Tsitsipas opened a 0-30 advantage after beginning by carving a brilliantly disguised crosscourt forehand drop shot. Targeting the Greek’s backhand, Ruud dug in for 4-4.

Two games later, Ruud fell behind 0-40, but was aided by a tightening opponent whose groundstrokes flew errantly off his racquet.

At 5-6, Ruud upped his total set points saved to five when Tsitsipas lost his timing with two poor backhands from 15-40. He then built a 4-0 lead to open the tiebreak and while Tsitsipas closed the gap to 4-5, Ruud confidently served it out in improving to 2-1 against his fellow 25-year-old.


Ruud is aiming to lift his second career hard-court trophy, having triumphed at 2021 San Diego. His three runner-up finishes on the surface came in significant 2022 championship clashes—the Miami Open, US Open and Nitto ATP Finals. All of his prior titles have been earned at the ATP 250 level.

The No. 4 seed, who will overtake Tsitsipas when the rankings are next published, can return to the Top 10 if he defeats the winner of top seed Alexander Zverev and Australia’s Jordan Thompson come Saturday.

Both Ruud and Thompson are due to pull double duty at the end of play, with Ruud partnering William Blumberg and Thompson joining forces with Max Purcell.

“It will be a long night, but it’s OK,” Ruud said with a smile before winning over the crowd with a few words in Spanish.