Norway’s Casper Ruud said he was not expecting to reach yet another final in 2022 after beating Andrey Rublev in straight sets to book his place in Sunday’s showpiece at the ATP Finals in Turin.
Ruud confidently swatted aside an error-prone Rublev 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday to set up a clash against Novak Djokovic.
The 23-year-old has had a great year - reaching his first Masters 1000 final in the Miami Open, before making it to the finals of the French Open and US Open - and will be looking to cap it off with victory at the season-ending championship.
“I think I surprised myself for sure,” Ruud told reporters.
“It was a tough start of the year for me because I twisted my ankle in Australia the day before my match in the Australian Open, so I had to pull out. I guess when I was on the plane back home, I did not think I would be sitting here in this position.
“I think when the draw was made here, I guess I was the least favourite to reach the final, compared to all the other great players who I consider are maybe better hard court indoor players than myself.”
Djokovic is in the running to win a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title on Sunday, and Ruud, who is 0-3 in head-to-head battles against the Serb, heaped praise on his opponent ahead of their meeting.
“Novak, in a final on an indoor hard court here, is one of the toughest players you can play in the history of our sport,” Ruud said.
“I know that I will need to come up with something I have not done yet against him because I haven’t been able to beat him. Just try to believe that I can win. It’s not going to be easy, obviously, but I will give it a shot, my best shot.”