Tennis-Ruud, Sinner boost ATP Finals chances

FILE PHOTO: Sep 6, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Jannik Sinner of Italy hits to Alexander Zverev of Germany on day eight of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Norway's Casper Ruud and Jannik Sinner of Italy have moved up in the leaderboard in the race to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin by winning tournaments in California and Bulgaria.

Ruud, 22, picked up his first tour-level title on hard courts on Sunday when he swept past Cameron Norrie 6-0 6-2 at the San Diego Open to reclaim eighth place from Hubert Hurkacz.

Hurkacz, who picked up his third tour-level title in 2021 in Metz, France, slipped to ninth with Sinner 10th on the list.

"I know that now I will jump up to eighth and it's fun because Jannik (Sinner) and Hubert are the closest guys behind me," Ruud told the ATP Tour website.

"Within these two weeks we've all won a tournament so it's a strong competition now. I think us three are the closest to capturing the last two spots."

Sinner defeated Gael Monfils 6-3 6-4 to defend his ATP 250 title in Sofia and boost his chances of making the cut for the season-ending tournament in his home country.

The ATP Finals is played between the top eight men's singles players and doubles teams and will be held from Nov. 14-21.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev and French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas have already qualified for the tournament.

German Alexander Zverev, Russian Andrey Rublev and Italian Matteo Berrettini occupy the next three spots on the leaderboard.

Spaniard Rafa Nadal is placed seventh but the 20-times major winner has already announced the end of his season due to injury.

"Obviously, there are some big events that will be played now – Indian Wells, there's 1,000 points on the line – also Paris and Vienna," Ruud said.

"There is no way I can kind of relax and think that I will make it because I have to try to think that Hubert and Jannik can both do really well, so I have to do the same.

"That's how it should be. It should be a strong competition and whoever gets there in the end, deserves it more."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Berhampore, India; editing by Ed Osmond)

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