Tsitsipas sets up Ruud rematch in Barcelona Open final

BARCELONA: Stefanos Tsitsipas set up a rematch with Casper Ruud in the Barcelona Open final by defeating Dusan Lajovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.

The Greek beat world number six Ruud last week in the Monte Carlo Masters final, inflicting the Norwegian's third final defeat this year.

Ruud, a three-time Grand Slam runner-up, edged past Tomas Etcheverry 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 earlier Saturday in the first semi-final to record his tour-leading 28th win of the season.

Tsitsipas, seventh in the world rankings, battled back after a shaky first set and overpowered his Serbian opponent.

"It was not (easy) at all, he was fighting really hard, I wasn't very consistent," said Tsitsipas.

"The more the match progressed I got deeper into the reasons of why I'm not winning the games I need to win – I got really deep with myself and tried to escape that one-way route the match started at."

Tsitsipas saved a break point to hold for 4-4 in the first set in which he committed several unforced errors, and Lajovic secured it when the Greek pushed a shot into the net.

However the 25-year-old broke decisively in the second set for a 4-3 lead and then dominated in the third set.

"I delivered really different tennis and a much better version of myself in the second and third set," added Tsitsipas.

Ruud triumphed in straight sets earlier but Etcheverry tested him.

"It's been fantastic, two weeks has been really good, two finals in a row and it's gonna be special tomorrow, I'm gonna play for the biggest title of my career," Ruud told Teledeporte.

"It was a difficult match, level-wise maybe it was my best match here in Barcelona, a very tough opponent, Tomas is playing fantastic tennis.

"I was a bit lucky in the first set... but that's what you need sometimes, a bit of luck."

Ruud lost two finals in Mexico and then against Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo but is enjoying a strong season.

The players traded breaks in the first set, with Ruud's superb forehand winner earning him a 4-2 lead.

However Etcheverry broke back with Ruud slapping another forehand into the net and consolidated for 4-4. Ruud dropped two set points before eventually shading a tight tie-break.

In the second set Ruud broke straight away but Etcheverry immediately hit back. The Norwegian broke again in the fifth game and served it out.

Ruud wrapped up his win by converting the second of three match points when Etcheverry sent a return into the net.--AFP

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