Casper Ruud Clinches Team Europe’s First Points, Score Stands at 2-6
Casper Ruud secured Team Europe’s first points of Laver Cup Vancouver 2023 with a 7-6(6) 6-2 victory over Tommy Paul on Saturday.
With the win, 24-year-old Ruud earned the men in blue two crucial points and extended his head-to-head advantage over Paul to 4-1.
“Even though World are up 6-2, there have been some close calls,” said Ruud.
“Luckily this one went Europe’s way, hopefully it can be somewhat of a momentum shift for us now.”
“We’re young and we’re strong and we’re ready for the rest of the weekend,” said Ruud, acknowledging that he felt the pressure of taking the black court with his team facing a 0-6 deficit.
“I really thought that it’s time to play maybe the best match of the year and it wasn’t far away,” said Ruud, who ripped 13 forehand winners.
The Norwegian seized his first break point chance, drawing Paul into the net before firing a forehand past Paul to take a 3-1 lead.
The 26-year-old American, playing his first Laver Cup singles match, had an opportunity to immediately recapture the break, only to be denied by a huge first serve from Ruud.
Ever the competitor, Paul broke Ruud in the seventh game with a sizzling forehand winner. “You’re doing unbelievable,” Frances Tiafoe told Paul during that changeover, encouraging his teammate to keep repeating an effective strategy of coming forward to end points.
As Team Europe huddled around Ruud on the bench, Andrey Rublev had some words of support for his teammate. “You are doing so good man, focus on you,” the World No. 6 said, while Hubert Hurkacz had another suggestion for Ruud. “When he comes to the net, try to challenge his backhand volley,” said the Pole.
Contesting their first tie-break since the 2022 US Open, Ruud and Paul exchanged a barrage of mini-breaks. The Team Europe veteran saved a set point before clinching the set as his rival sprayed an inside-out forehand wide to end a breathtaking 20-stroke rally.
Ruud maintained his momentum in the second set, earning an opening game service break. The right-hander fired a statement forehand down the line to break yet again for a 5-2 lead, and sealed the win with an ace out wide.
“It’s great to play besides Bjorn and when Roger’s in the stands, it’s extra special, you want to deliver, you want to play well,” said Ruud.
Borg congratulated his charge’s great effort and emphasized his belief in his side, who trail 2-6.
“Team World is strong, they’ve been playing great tennis. I think hopefully, we’ll be slowly coming back,” Borg said. “It’s going to be interesting tonight.”