Casper Ruud rallies past Joao Sousa to advance in Estoril Open

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ESTORIL: Norwegian Casper Ruud made a good start at the Estoril Open on Wednesday when he rallied past Portugal’s Joao Sousa 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals at the ATP 250 clay-court event.

Ruud, who is making his Estoril debut, entered the match with a 5-6 season record after losing in the third round in Indian Wells and Miami. The top seed, however, ensured that he would not suffer another early exit against Sousa, increasing his intensity and level throughout the two-hour, 15-minute match to improve to 4-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.

Ruud now has 100 tour-level victories on clay, having won eight of his nine ATP Tour titles on the surface. He also reached the final of Roland Garros last year.

The World No. 5 is into the quarter-finals at a tour-level event for the first time since September when he advanced to the last eight in Seoul. He will next play Argentine Sebastian Baez after the defending champion defeated Pedro Cachin 6-4, 7-6(2).

“I am just happy to get the win today. It was not looking good after the first set, but I managed to step up and play better and better and I think that is a good sign going into the next match,” quoted Ruud as saying in his on-court interview.

“Joao is such a nice guy. I have mixed feelings, winning against him here in Estoril. I know he is a home-crowd favourite. He is a great example of a great fighter. He really has had an influence on this tournament and the fans here,” Ruud said.

“It will be a tough one against Baez. We have never played against each other. He is a young player. I saw him more and more the past years. He is developing well. He is a great player and won his first title here last year. He is a player to watch out for and I am going to have to be on top of my game,” he added.

Baez had a dream run to his first tour-level title in Estoril last season and has looked at ease in his first two matches at this year’s event. After defeating Radu Albot in the first round, the 22-year-old broke Cachin’s serve five times to advance after two hours and 11 minutes.

In other action, Marco Cecchinato defeated Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in an-all Italian clash. Through to his first quarter-final of the season, the 30-year-old Cecchinato will next play third seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. (ANI)

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