Ruud Extends Run Of Good Form, Beats Felix

Casper Ruud got off to a strong start against Felix Auger-Aliassime on Tuesday and didn’t look back at the Mutua Madrid Open. The Norwegian, who has reached four straight ATP Tour quarter-finals (or better) this year, knocked out Canadian No. 15 seed Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 31 minutes on Arantxa Sanchez Stadium.

“I am very happy with the way I played,” said Ruud. “I will take all the Masters 1000 wins I can get. I played solid and steady today. Madrid is a little bit different to other clay-court events because of the high bounces and altitude. I hit with good length and I served unbelievably well today. I have been working a lot on my serve recently, so it’s nice to see it’s coming together a little bit. I hope I can keep my level high.”

Ruud, a semi-finalist at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Rublev) and at last week’s BMW Open in Munich (l. to Basilashvili), will now prepare to face Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic or Japanese lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka. The 22-year-old, who did not face a break point, is now 7-2 on European clay this year.

“I think that I have proved myself in Rome [last year] and in Monte-Carlo that I can play at a high level,” said Ruud. “To reach the semi-finals in Madrid, I will have to play well again. I have a lot of motivation to play well throughout the clay-court season.”

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Ruud capitalised on errors from Auger-Aliassime to break twice in the first set – courtesy of a forehand at 1-2 and a forehand volley at 1-4. The World No. 22 completed the 34-minute opener with a big forehand winner. Ruud saved two break points at 2-2 in the second set, then clinched the seventh game after Auger-Aliassime struck a forehand approach into the net. Ruud closed out the pair’s second ATP Head2Head meeting on his fifth match point.

Auger-Aliassime, who is now 12-8 on the 2021 season, reached the Murray River Open final (l. to Evans) in February.

Nishioka replaced last week’s Millennium Estoril Open runner-up Cameron Norrie in the main draw after the Briton withdrew from the clay-court tournament due to a foot injury.