Casper Ruud, the hard-court specialist? The 23-year-old has advanced to four significant finals in 2022—three of them away from his original comfort zone of clay.

Ruud’s latest breakthrough comes at the Nitto ATP Finals, played on indoor hard. As he stayed plugged in Saturday, Andrey Rublev was never connected. It resulted in Ruud cruising to a 6-2, 6-4 victory, locking up a Top 3 finish in the year-end rankings.

"I feel comfortable in my serve. I get a lot of free points when I'm serving well when you don't get on clay, for instance. There are many things that are pros and cons on both surfaces," Ruud said in his press conference.

"I've been feeling the ball surprisingly well here. I love the balls. Dunlop ATP balls, I've always had a good feel for them. The court plays fast."

Ruud can make that year-end world No. 2 on Sunday, but, he’ll have a tall order in reversing the outcomes of the previous finals of note—losses at Miami, Roland Garros and the US Open. Novak Djokovic, whom Ruud is yet to win a set against in three prior meetings, awaits in his own quest to tie Roger Federer’s event record with a sixth champion's trophy.

"I think when the draw was made here, I guess I was the least favorite to reach the final, I think I can say for sure, compared to all the other great players who I consider are maybe better hard court indoor players than myself," admitted Ruud. "There are small margins in this sport. I've been able to come through, fight through, be in the final, so I'm very happy about it."

Ruud finished with just eight unforced errors on the day against Rublev.

Ruud finished with just eight unforced errors on the day against Rublev.


After Rublev netted a backhand to drop serve at 2-3 in a game he initially led 40-15, he voiced frustrations when sitting for the changeover. Multiple misfires and gestures followed in contributing to Ruud consolidating his break at love. While the No. 6 seed continued to self implode, Ruud kept his head down by keeping errors to a minimum.

"When I lost my serve, I start to rush a bit. I was trying to play aggressive, rushing. I start to miss more and more," said Rublev.

At 2-4, Rublev’s 40-30 lead turned into ad-out on the back of two more self-inflicted forehand miscues. Ruud soon had nine successive games in hand in building a set and 4-0 advantage that saw him claim 31 of 38 points.

The crowd inside Pala Alpitour tried to bring Rublev to life when he held to get on the scoreboard in set two. He broke Ruud for the first time when the two-time major finalist failed to serve it out at 5-2. Three games later, the Norwegian crossed the finish line with untouchable serving to knock out Rublev for the second year running here.

Ruud is bidding to lift his first trophy above the ATP 250 level.