It wasn’t easy but defending champion Casper Ruud finally, after battling Joao Susa for just over three hours, retained the Gonet Geneva Open crown 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6(1) for his eighth career title to emulate Stan Wawrinka’s achievement of 2016 and 2017.
It was one of the craziest matches that I have ever played, It was a lot of up and down Casper Ruud
With the final poised in favour of Sousa at 5-3 in the third, Ruud produced some excellent and precise tennis to keep himself in the match and provide spectators with a dramatic finish.
He fired 11 aces and produced some powerful strokes off both wings, broke his opponent twice from eight opportunities and finally pocketed the title on his fourth match point in what is the longest championship match of the season in both time and games, 36.
It was also the first championship match to be settled by a tie-break in the final deciding set.
“It was one of the craziest matches that I have ever played,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “It was a lot of up and down. Sousa was close to winning and then suddenly everything turns around and this is tennis. It is always tough for the player who is not winning.”
Ruud has now won six of the past seven ATP 250 clay-court events he has played, with his one defeat coming against Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp in Munich last month.
The Norwegian World No. 8, who defeated Canadian Denis Shapovalov in last year’s final, is also only the second player to have retained a 2021 title joining Stefanos Tsitsipas’ successful defence of his Monte Carlo crown last month.
“This win feels so good, but you have to give a lot of credit to Joao because he fought back from one set down and has been playing well all week,” Ruud added. “It was just a matter of one or two points today and luckily they went in my favour.”
Earlier this season, Ruud won the Buenos Aires title on clay and is now the sixth player to have won at least two titles this season.
Disappointment for the 33-year-old Sousa who was also chasing his second title of the year having won in Pune, India, last February but his efforts will have lifted his ranking by 16 places to No.63.