Casper Ruud found another gear in his game down 2-5 in the third set to Pablo Carreño Busta on Thursday in Monte Carlo. Energized by a costly double fault on match point from the Spaniard, Ruud dominated the tail end of the match, winning the last five games to emerge victorious, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-5, and set up a meeting with defending champion Fabio Fognini.
The Italian appears extremely motivated this week and seems to have brought his best tennis to Monte Carlo, where he will attempt to reach his third career semifinal. Fognini dispatched Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6 (1) to increase his winning streak to eight matches—dating back to his 2019 title run.
The Ruud forehand will likely be the best shot on the court, but Fognini’s unique ability to strike his backhand on the rise could negate the Norwegian’s heavy spin.
After nearly three hours on court, one has to wonder how much Ruud will have left in the tank, but having reached his second consecutive clay-court Masters 1000 quarterfinal, he is unquestionably one of the world’s premier players on clay. His forehand is utterly massive.
Hopefully Fognini is ready to run, because when Ruud has time to set up his forehand, he hits it with extreme power and accuracy.
So much of this outcome will depend on which version of Fognini shows up, as his best is better than Ruud's, but the 22-year-old's physicality and discipline may frustrate the often-irritable Italian.
This matchup is a toss-up, with Ruud listed as a slight -134 favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook. In the end, your guess is as good as mine, but if he’s not exhausted from his marathon match against Carreño Busta, Ruud’s forehand should propel him to victory.
The Pick: Casper Ruud