Nordea Open: Baez overcomes Rublev to set up final with compatriot Cerundolo

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Nordea Open: Baez overcomes Rublev to set up final with compatriot Cerundolo
 

Bastad (Sweden): Argentina’s Sebastian Baez produced a dominant performance to reach the final of the Nordea Open, beating Russia’s Andrey Rublev in the semifinal, here on Saturday.

In a clash of two high-powered forehands, it was Baez whose ball striking had Rublev on the run more frequently as he eased to a 6-2, 6-4 victory in the pair’s first ATP head-to-head meeting.

The World No. 34 broke Rublev’s serve four times on the way to a 75-minute win that secured him a spot in his third tour-level final.

“I think I played better than yesterday,” said Baez, referring to his hard-fought three-set quarter-final win against Dominic Thiem on Friday.

“I am happy to win and continue in the tournament,” he added.

Baez now faces another player for the first time at the tour level in fellow Argentine Francisco Cerundolo. Despite never having faced each other at an ATP Tour event, the pair knows each other well — Baez leads Cerundolo 2-1 from three meetings at Futures and ATP Challenger Tour level.

“I think it will be a tough match because we have known each other for many years. But I have to do the best I can. This is a new tournament, a new final, another week. So, I am happy to stay in the final, and of course, I want more,” said Baez.

The 21-year-old Baez, a semifinalist at last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals, won his maiden ATP Tour title in Estoril at the beginning of May.

Earlier in the day, the No. 39-ranked Cerundolo delivered an accomplished all-around showing to register a 6-3, 6-2 semifinal win over fifth seed Pablo Carreno Busta and reach the final.

Saturday’s victory in his maiden ATP head-to-head meeting against Busta lifted the Argentine to No 32 in the ATP Live Rankings. The win improved Cerundolo’s 2022 record to 16-11, and his record against Top 20 opponents this year now stands at 3-4.

If he lifts his maiden tour-level trophy in Sweden on Sunday, the Argentine could rise as high as No. 30 in this Monday’s update of the ATP Rankings.


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