Semifinal Saturday at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship put some of the ATP Tour’s most promising young talent on display as 22-year-old Christian Garin and 20-year-old Casper Ruud advanced to the final.
Chile’s Garin added two-time US Clay finalist Sam Querrey to his upset list this week, taking out the No. 8 seed 7-6(2), 6-2 to book a spot in his second final of the year. He broke the American’s serve three times in 10 opportunities and won 80% of points on his own first serve.
“I like to play in these conditions,” Garin told Tennis Channel’s Nicolas Pereira after the match. “He’s a really good player. I tried to make him play, and the conditions were better for me today.”
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He is the first Chilean in the US Clay final since countryman Fernando Gonzalez defeated Nicolas Massu to capture the 2000 title, but his path has not been an easy one. He earned a three-set first-round victory over Uruguayan veteran Pablo Cuevas, before saving five match points en route to an upset win over No. 2 seed Jeremy Chardy in round two. He also took out qualifier Henri Laaksonen in straight sets before facing Querrey Saturday.
“[The wind today] made it tough, but he did a good job of playing through it,” Querrey said of Garin. “He plays well on clay. I expected him to play well, and he did.”
Garin will face Norway’s Casper Ruud in the final, in a rematch of the Sao Paulo semifinal in February, which Garin won 6-4, 6-4.
Ruud defeated qualifier Daniel Galan 7-5, 6-2 to become the youngest finalist here since Andy Roddick in 2002. Ruud was experiencing neck pain going into the match and called the trainer at 1-2 in the first set.
“I was a bit unfortunate because I got a crack in my neck right before the match and it felt really stiff when I got on the court," he explained afterward. "In the beginning I could barely serve and the returns were hurting.”
He would go down a break and 2-5 before storming back to take the first set 7-5.
“The plan was to stay steady and play my game. I have a heavy forehand that I like to use. It really bounces up on the clay."
Ruud never let Galan back into the match, cruising to victory and an opportunity to play in his first ATP Tour final.
Ruud and Garin will take the court at approximately 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, following the doubles final.