Norwegian Ruud claims first ATP Tour title with Argentina win

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - First Round

(Reuters) - Casper Ruud put Portugal's Pedro Sousa on the defence early and became the first Norwegian to win an ATP Tour title at the Argentina Open on Sunday.

Ruud appeared on his way to an easy victory with his first-set domination but lucky loser Sousa made it a lot tougher in the second before falling 6-1 6-4.

The win is expected to propel the 45th ranked Ruud to world number 34 on Monday, the highest ranking ever by a Norwegian.

In doing so, Ruud will surpass his father and now coach Christian Ruud who was a former player on the tour and previous highest ranked Norwegian (39).

"I feel a great sensation now," the 21-year-old Ruud said. "It is what all players look for and dream. I am very happy with my career, although I know that I am still young."

The eighth seed won all nine of his service games without facing a break point, He broke three times and won 43% of his return points.

Ruud broke in his first return game as Sousa, who had his left leg heavily wrapped, was wide on a cross-court forehand.

The Norwegian claimed the set on a Sousa forehand down the middle which went long.

The second set was much closer as crowd favourite Sousa pulled within 4-5 before Ruud wrapped up the match on a forehand from well off the court by the Portuguese.

Despite the loss Sousa was pleased with his play in the tournament.

"It's the best week of my life, my first final and maybe the last one," he said with a laugh. "I came to play qualies (qualifiers) about two weeks ago and I am sitting here on Sunday. I cannot be more happy. Ruud played very firm and is the deserved champion."


(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge)