Casper Ruud earned one of the biggest wins of his career on Thursday, upsetting red-hot Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open.
The Norwegian had previously been winless against top five opponents in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But the World No. 22 showed no fear against the fourth seed, earning the lone break of serve in the second set to triumph after one hour and 34 minutes.
“He is one of the best players this year on the Tour, one of the ones who has won the most matches. He’s won his first Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo. Barcelona he was very close to getting the title there, as well,” Ruud said of Tsitsipas. “But the conditions are a bit different here than other clay courts with the fast shots, the ball traveling faster through the air because of the altitude. You get a lot of free points with the serve that you don’t usually [get] on the clay courts. I think that also today went a bit in my advantage.
“I felt like he was doing some mistakes that he doesn’t always do. I was just trying to take care of the chances that I got.”[WATCH LIVE 2]
Ruud is into the quarter-finals of his third consecutive clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event. The 22-year-old made the semi-finals of last year’s International BNL d’Italia and this season’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
“It’s given me more and more confidence the more matches I’ve won,” Ruud said. “I’m feeling good, especially here in Europe on the clay.”
Tsitsipas is the leader in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, having lifted his maiden Masters 1000 trophy in Monte-Carlo and reaching the final in Barcelona, where he held championship point against Rafael Nadal in the final before losing. But he was unable to overwhelm Ruud, who did not face a break point in his victory.
The Next Gen ATP Finals alumnus will have a chance to make the last four in the Caja Magica when he plays Alexander Bublik, who defeated 2021 breakthrough star Aslan Karatsev 6-4, 6-3 earlier in the day. The Norwegian won his only previous ATP Head2Head clash against Bublik in three sets in St. Petersburg two years ago.
“He’s definitely playing very well here in Madrid. He also won three matches. He’s serving unbelievable,” Ruud said. “He can do anything with the ball. He can play drop shots and winners, the most incredible shots. Underarm serve. I have to be prepared for everything tomorrow.”