Age: 20 – April 2nd 1999
Height: 1.88m/6ft 2 inches
Current Ranking: 124 (career high)
Junior Career High Ranking: 4
Professional titles: 6 Future level titles, 4 at the Challenger level
Titles in 2019: 2 Futures, 4 Challengers
Emil was a top level junior who peaked at number 4. His defining achievement as a junior was winning the ITF Junior Masters, effectively the junior equivalent of the World Tour Finals, by beating China’s Yibing Wu in Chengdu in a third set tie-break.
That event took place in October 2017 and in November of that year Ruusuvuori would proceed to win a Futures event (indoor hard) in his homeland of Finland as a wild card entry. The future looked extremely bright.
However 2018 wasn’t an overly impressive year for a top junior like Emil. He won three $15k events (2 outdoors, 1 indoor) but made no impression at the Challenger level. His ranking rose to 368 from 665 but it wasn’t necessarily clear when he might make the next jump.
Indeed by mid-June of 2019, despite two $25k titles, he found himself at 410 in the world and had yet to reach a Challenger QF. Boy did that change and quickly.
In the next 5 months Emil would pick up no less than FOUR Challenger titles (2 outdoors, 2 indoors) and reach a clay court final, as well as starring for Finland by picking up two Davis Cup wins, including a brilliant win over an admittedly unwell Dominic Thiem.
It may seem strange to urge a note of caution for a player on a run like Emil, but I think you have to acknowledge the level of opposition he’s faced. In his 21 victories that lead to his four titles the highest ranked opponent he faced and beat was Yannick Maden at 121 in the world. To give that some context Mikael Ymer won the Orleans Challenger this year and in one week 4 of his 5 wins were against opponents more highly ranked than anyone Emil has beaten.
I say that not to disparage his wonderful run, but to make it clear he’s still got plenty to prove.
I should note that rather frustratingly I don’t have the level of data I would like (this will be an issue across the series of players I will cover) to confirm things like service speed, so it’s very much anecdotal.
I’d describe Emil as an aggressive baseliner who looks to dictate in the rallies. I would say that he does at times look like his feet are stuck in glue, as he seems quite hesitant to move forward unless his opponent hits a shot well short. In today’s game being able to finish at the next is an incredible valuable skill and that’s something that could be improved.
He has a pretty powerful first serve that’s capable of winning free points and also setting up for him to win rallies early. I’ve found it’s more effective when he’s going down the T. The second serve isn’t bad but I’d like to see how it measures up again better opponents.
His forehand is his main weapon and it’s a shot I like. He is capable of hitting it flat and dominating with it. It contrasts with his backhand, because whilst not weak, it is fairly ineffective. He hits the vast majority of backhands crosscourt and against better players I worry he may get pinned back in that corner as he doesn’t hit enough shots down the line to change the angle.
Aims for next year
Emil is yet to play a single ATP main tour level event so you have to be realistic. Ending the year in the top 100 would be a great achievement in my opinion.
From a purely technical viewpoint I’ll also be watching out for the evolution of his backhand.
I’ll include a video below of his Helsinki triumph for you to watch: