Rome, May 20 (IANS): Holger Rune moved to within one win of capturing his second ATP Masters 1000 title after he earned a comeback victory against Casper Ruud at the Italian Open semifinal, here on Saturday.
In a tight clash, the Dane rallied from a break down in the second set to overcome the fourth seed Ruud 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2 and earn his 27th win of the season.
Rune, who defeated Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, backed up that standout win with a clean-hitting performance against Ruud to improve to 1-4 in their ATP head-to-head series. The 20-year-old struck his groundstrokes with power and showed deft touch at times, outfoxing Ruud in a series of cat-and-mouse exchanges to advance after two hours and 41 minutes.
"I had nothing to lose in the second [set], so I just told myself to play freely and enjoy it as I thought it would be my last set here," Rune said.
"I told myself to play aggressively and enjoy it and I did it and that was the key to the comeback," he added.
The Dane has enjoyed a strong clay-court season. He reached the final in Monte Carlo before he clinched the crown in Munich, and he holds a 13-2 record on the surface for the year. With his victory against Ruud, Rune has climbed one spot to No. 6 in the ATP Live Rankings. If he wins the title on Sunday, he could jump to No. 5.
"I really played some of my best tennis in the past two matches against Novak and then Casper. Two difficult players to play, so I had to find my best tennis and I actually didn't find it today, only at the end and that is why I turned it around," said Rune.
Rune lifted his maiden Masters 1000 title in Paris last year and will play for his fifth tour-level trophy and second at Masters 1000 level on Sunday against Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas.