Fixture: Marin Cilic vs Casper Ruud
Date: 18 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: Third round (Round of 16)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €3,465,045
Match timing: Not Before 2 pm CEST, 5:30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Sony Six
Marin Cilic vs Casper Ruud preview
Croatia's Marin Cilic will face Norwegian player Casper Ruud on Friday, in the third round of the 2020 ATP Rome Masters.
Cilic rolled back the years in his second round match as he stunned sixth seed David Goffin for the loss of only four games. The Croat put up a masterful serving display, winning 88% first serve points and hitting eight aces. He broke serve as many as four times in the match, while not conceding a single break point on his own serve.
Cilic has had a tough couple of years, failing to reach the last eight of a Slam in this period and seeing his ranking collapse to No. 40. But the win and overall performance against Goffin, on Cilic's least preferred surface, should give the former US Open champion a big boost in confidence.
In his next match Cilic faces another strong claycourt player in Casper Ruud.
The Norwegian loves playing on clay and has shown that so far this week. He has matched his previous year's result in Rome by reaching the Round of 16, after beating Lorenzo Sonego convincingly in straight sets.
Ruud also dismissed 11th seed Karen Khachanov in the opening round. He would be buzzing with confidence and motivation to make the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career.
Marin Cilic vs Casper Ruud head-to-head
The head-to-head between Marin Cilic and Casper Ruud currently stands at 0-0 as the two players have never faced each other before.
Marin Cilic vs Casper Ruud prediction
Marin Cilic's serve has worked well for him in the two matches he has played this week. The high-bouncing surface of Rome also aids his huge forehand, as it makes the ball sit up perfectly in the 1.98m giant's strike zone.
However, Cilic's problem on clay has always been his inability to control his aggressive groundstrokes in the longer rallies. The Croat tends to cough up too many errors against players who are good at defense.
When Cilic can't deploy his first-strike tennis strategy efficiently, he often ends up growing impatient and pulling the trigger too early, or simply getting worn down by a quicker opponent.
World No. 34 Casper Ruud is exactly the kind of player that can expose those weaknesses.
The 21-year-old can rally on a claycourt for days. Ruud's forehand is tailor-made for the slow surface, landing deep and bouncing awkwardly just in front of the opponent.
However, his loopy backhand to Cilic's forehand when pushed wide could invite trouble for the Norwegian. That is one play Ruud should look to avoid if he hopes to beat the Croat on Friday.
Prediction: Casper Ruud to win in three sets.Published 18 Sep 2020, 02:31 IST