Tennis Player to Watch: Emil Ruusuvuori

Tennis Pilot

Thursday, September 12, 2019 6:51 AM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 12, 2019 6:51 AM UTC

After an excellent campaign this year, will young prospect Emil Ruusuvuori breakthrough in 2020?

<div><p>Jarkko Nieminen, former world number 13 and Finland’s greatest ever tennis player retired in 2015. Ever since, the position of top Finnish tennis player has been waiting for a contender and we may well have a talented, young prospect in the form of Emil Ruusuvuori.</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>Early Years and Breakthrough</strong></h2><p>Ruusuvuori is 20 years old, born 2 April 1999 in Helsinki, Finland. He started playing tennis at 5 years old and under the guidance of coach Federico Ricci has had a rapid rise in both ability and rank. As a junior Ruusuvuori was ranked as high as 4, won the ITF Junior Masters and was a semi finalist at the US Open. Moving to the ITF circuit – the next level down from Challengers – he played his first match in 2014 aged 15 but decided to move slowly playing just 19 matches between 2014 and 2016. His breakthrough came in 2017 where he amassed an impressive 18-6 record in ITFs and in November took home his maiden title at the Finland F4 event. The following year he took home another 3 ITF titles and broke onto the Challenger scene playing 12 Challenger events with a respectable 17-12 record.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;He is a champion! &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#emilruusuvuori&lt;/a&gt; Claiming his second challenger TITLE at the Rafa Nadal Open🏆 🇫🇮 Congratulations on the trophy and Amazing fight &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#octagontennis&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#finnish&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#atpchallengertour&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@octagon&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Octagon Tennis (@OctagonTennis) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;September 3, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt; &lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;"}[/]</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>The Challenger Tour and 2019</strong></h2><p>The Challenger tour is designed as a stepping-stone to the main tour and every year we see young prospects trying their hand. Recent, notable players to make the upgrade from Challenger to main level include Medvedev, Khachanov, Berrettini, Tsitsipas, Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime, De Minaur and Kecmanovic.</p><p>Ruusuvuori may well soon make that list after a superb 2019 on the Challenger circuit took him from over 400 in the world to a current career high rank of 161. He has made 3 Challenger finals this year and taken home 2 titles making him just the fourth Fin to win a Challenger title and the first since Nieminen in 2013. Most recently, in August at the Mallorca Challenger he was a 6-0 6-1 winner over Italian veteran Matteo Viola after already ousting fourth seed Yannick Maden and not dropping a set all week. “Today I just played some really good tennis”, said Ruusuvuori after the match. “Everything just worked. The atmosphere here was great all week.”</p><p>The Fin is what you might call an aggressive baseliner - more return than serve orientated and wins most of his points through aggression, consistency, variety and intelligent strategy from the baseline. His Challenger level service/return total for 2019 is 105.4% which suggests he will manage a very reasonable level at main level. For comparison, here are the service/return totals for the players who won 3 or more singles Challenger titles in 2019: Andujar 110.1%, Berankis 108.7%, Martin 106.5%, Bublik 103.3%. At 105.4% he is very much in the mix and all are current or former top 100 players, so he is in good company.</p><p><a href=";a=f339dce1-88de-4994-ab6a-c24e019bdf3b&amp;f=3" target="_blank"><img alt src="" style="width:100%" /></a></p><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>Potential Problems</strong></h2><p>After winning his maiden Challenger in Fergana, Emil was asked if he had expected such quick success. “Well, maybe I didn't expect to win the title, but I've been improving a lot in the last few weeks”, replied Emil. “I don't set any limits for myself, so I know my level. I'm happy with this.” As he suggests, it is hard to predict the speed at which he will progress and, as always, there are many areas where the Fin could improve. At 6’ 1” his serve should be more effective and this is probably the main area he will be working on with his coaches. It will also be very interesting to see how Emil manages himself at main level, especially mentally. In his one main level match to date he lost 6-1 in the third to Fabbiano priced 4.33. A respectable match but one in which he began much better than he finished. Developing mental consistency is usually a major hurdle when moving up to main level.</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2><p>Nonetheless, Emil is clearly a talented prospect and from what I have seen of him I think he clearly has the potential to be a top 50 player in the future. Difficult to say exactly when he will have his breakthrough. As we’ve seen with the likes of Casper Ruud, it can be hard to keep improving season on season even at a young age and often it can take a few years to gain consistency at main level. If it is 2020 then all the better but either way I will be watching out for the new rising talent of Finnish tennis.</p></div>
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