Turin, November 20: Casper Ruud swept through to a showdown with Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals, making light work of Andrey Rublev to reach the trophy match.
The 23-year-old Norwegian has enjoyed a stunning season, reaching two grand slam finals, and his 6-2 6-4 semi-final dismissal of Russian Rublev was impressively authoritative.
After Ruud coasted through the opening set, the occasion fell wholly flat when Ruud broke serve in the first game of the second, and did so again in the third game.
Rublev sat shaking his head at his chair in the break between games, also shrugging his shoulders towards his support team and looking lost for ideas.
He only began to make an impact after slipping 4-0 behind, and at 5-2 he broke Ruud's serve to narrow the gap and give the Turin crowd hope the contest could take off.
At 5-4, it was briefly tense, but Ruud served for the match for a second time and this time made it count, sealing victory with a brilliant backhand winner to become the first Scandinavian finalist at the ATP Finals since Stefan Edberg in 1990.
Ruud will overtake Rafael Nadal and end the year at number two in the ATP rankings should he carry off the title on Sunday; however, he has a 0-3 career record against Djokovic. Djokovic earlier battled past Taylor Fritz by winning a pair of tight tie-breaks to earn a straight-sets victory in the first of Saturday's semi-finals.
Ruud – 10/0
Rublev – 9/0
Ruud – 20/0
Rublev – 19/1
BREAK POINTS WON
Ruud – 4/4
Rublev – 1/1