QF Preview: Can Clay Star Ruud Make Arduous-Court docket Assertion In Cincinnati?

Casper Ruud is understood for his clay-court prowess, however the Norwegian could make a hard-court assertion on Friday within the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals.

The eighth seed will play Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Alexander Zverev for a spot within the final 4 in Cincinnati. Neither man had beforehand gained a match on the Lindner Household Tennis Centre, however one will transfer to inside two victories of the trophy.

It is a crucial match for Ruud within the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. Coming into the week, the 22-year-old was in eighth place as he pursues a maiden look on the Nitto ATP Finals in November. The 360 factors that will include a semi-final berth would give him respiration room forward Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, who misplaced Thursday, and draw him nearer to seventh-placed Rafael Nadal.

Ruud has now made at the least the quarter-finals at 4 consecutive ATP Masters 1000 occasions he has performed, together with two in a row on onerous courts. However the winner of 4 titles this season — all of which have come on clay — will face a stiff take a look at in opposition to Zverev, who has not misplaced a set this week.

The German started his run with an 0-6 report on the Western & Southern Open. However Zverev has discovered his rhythm on the fast, high-bouncing courts in Cincinnati, making the most of his booming serve to place strain on his opponents all through the event.

“I hope the story has handed me and I can win many extra right here,” Zverev stated in his on-court interview after dispatching Argentine lefty Guido Pella on Thursday. “Clearly I’ve had powerful instances right here, however I’m completely satisfied to be right here and I really feel like I’m enjoying properly. I’m feeling properly and that’s an important factor.”

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Zverev, the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion, started the week in sixth place within the Race. He has gained eight consecutive matches and his confidence is displaying in his aggressive play. The winner will play the winner of second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime for a spot within the championship match.

From their junior days till early of their ATP Head2Head rivalry, Auger-Aliassime had Tsitsipas’ quantity. However the Greek star has gained 4 consecutive matches in opposition to Felix to take a 4-2 lead of their sequence.

“[Felix] is aware of my sport higher than any opponent on the market. We’ve been enjoying [each other] because the age of 12,” Tsitsipas stated after a three-set victory in opposition to Auger-Aliassime in Acapulco this yr. “I wasn’t the one successful at first, however it’s nice that I’ve developed into the participant that I’m and he has carried out an unbelievable enchancment. [It is] all the time a problem going through him. We do have a historical past and I actually hope that we construct a rivalry that’s going to be a lot remembered in ATP Tour historical past.”

Picture Credit score: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
On the opposite half of the draw, prime seed Daniil Medvedev will attempt to proceed his spectacular play in opposition to Pablo Carreno Busta in what guarantees to be a baseline battle.

Medvedev is assured after lifting his fourth Masters 1000 trophy final week in Toronto, however Carreno Busta is not any stranger to hard-court success. The Spaniard is a two-time US Open semi-finalist who confirmed good type in taking out Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz in two tie-breaks on Thursday.

World No. 2 Medvedev may have revenge on his thoughts, as Carreno Busta simply defeated Medvedev in straight units within the Olympic quarter-finals and went on to win the bronze medal. The Russian leads their ATP Head2Head sequence 3-2, together with a triumph on this yr’s Mallorca semi-finals.

The winner will face Russian Andrey Rublev or resurgent Frenchman Benoit Paire. Will probably be an fascinating conflict of kinds of their first tour-level assembly, as Rublev blasts the ball with out hesitation, whereas Paire makes use of varied spins, really feel and is unafraid of coming to web to complete factors.

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