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Rome Masters: Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud preview, head-to-head & prediction | Italian Open 2020

 Novak Djokovic
 Novak Djokovic
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 19 Sep 2020, 23:36 IST
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Match details

Fixture: Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud

Date: 20 September 2020

Tournament: Italian Open 2020

Round: Semifinals

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

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Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | India - Sony Six

Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud preview

After his controversial exit from the US Open, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic might have been considered by some to be at risk of an early loss in Rome. But as he has done several times in the past, Djokovic has managed to put aside his off-court issues and start winning matches again.

The Serbian champion may not be at his best yet, but he has been able to come through to the last four at the Italian Open unscathed - with a final against Rafael Nadal still very much on the cards. Djokovic was stretched in his Round of 16 match by good friend Filip Krajinovic and needed three sets to overcome Dominik Koepfer on Saturday, but the bottom line is that he's still standing.

While Djokovic is chasing the Greatest of All Time title in the history books of men's tennis, his opponent Casper Ruud is already the GOAT in Norway's tennis history. The 21-year-old, ranked No. 34 in the world, is currently the highest ranking player ever from Norway - having beaten the record set by his father Christian Ruud, who had topped out at No. 39 in the ATP rankings.

Ruud is through to his first ever semifinal at the Masters level after taking nearly three hours to upset the No. 4 seed Matteo Berrettini. There's more good news for the Norwegian: he is likely to break into the top 30 after this week.

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Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud head-to-head

This will be the first meeting between Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud, so the head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.

Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud prediction

Casper Ruud is a typically strong claycourt player. He can rally consistently from the back of the court and grind away for hours.

Clay is by far his favorite surface, and all the three finals he has reached on the ATP Tour so far (winning one of them) have come on red dirt.

Ruud is very aware of his style of play too. In a recent interview with ATP, he said that he was working on being more aggressive.

“You see other young guys are playing extremely aggressive like Shapovalov, Felix, who are playing very aggressively. De Minaur is an aggressive player and he’s extremely fast. Fritz is a big hitter, Rublev is a big hitter,” Ruud said. “Many of the players are playing pretty aggressive and standing high up in the court. I’d like to at least know the feeling of that game as well so I can also try to improve.”

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When his game is on, the top-ranked Novak Djokovic is the master of both offence and defence. He has a great many weapons in his arsenal, but like he showed in his match against Koepfer, Djokovic is still not playing his very best; he converted just 6 of 21 break points in the match.

The Serb will certainly need to play better than he did on Saturday against the Norwegian if he is to advance to the final. But the odds are that he will.

Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in three sets.

Published 19 Sep 2020, 23:36 IST
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