Ruud powers past Cerundolo to set Miami title clash with Alcaraz

MIAMI: Carlos Alcaraz is one win away from creating Miami Open history after defeating defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets to book a final date on Sunday with Norway’s Casper Ruud.

The 18-year-old Spanish sensation brought the crowd at Hard Rock Stadium to their feet for the second night in succession following his dramatic quarter-final win over Miomir Kecmanovic on Thursday night as he saw off 10th-ranked Hurkacz of Poland 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/2) to reach his first ATP Masters final.

If he triumphs this weekend, Alcaraz, who made the last four in Indian Wells earlier this month, will become the youngest champion in the tournament’s 37-year history.

“This will be my first big final on a hard court but I have confidence and I am going to enjoy it.” said a delighted Alcaraz during a courtside interview after completing the win in just over two hours.

World number eight Ruud, meanwhile, becomes the first Norwegian to reach an ATP Masters 1000 final. His clash with the 2021 ATP Next Gen champion will be the biggest match of his career.

Ruud’s father, Christian, was Norway’s most successful player until he was surpassed by Casper, reaching 39th in the world. His first Masters 1000 final comes after three semi-final defeats at the level.

He overpowered Cerundolo, making his first appearance at the elite Masters level, 6-4, 6-1.

Cerundolo, cheered on by an enthusiastic group of Argentina fans in the stands at Hard Rock Stadium, was outserved by Ruud in the first set and a break to make it 3-1 in the second signalled the beginning of the end for the world number 103.

“I didn’t expect that if I ever made a Masters 1000 final, it would be here in Miami but I’ll take it,” said Ruud, who sealed the win with an ace.

For Cerundolo, defeat hurt but the progress made by the 23-year-old in south Florida is undeniable.

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