Indian Wells | Ruud and Rune pull through to last eight

The quarter final line-up for this year’s Indian Wells Masters was completed Wednesday with no upsets being recorded in the top half though for a moment, Gael Monfils seemed on track to continue his excellent run by ousting the ninth seed.

He played really well, and we pushed each other early in the first set and then I started getting really comfortable coming to the net, Casper Ruud

Norway’s Casper Ruud recovered well to prevent that setback to his own campaign, winning 3-6 7-6(3) 6-4 as did the seventh seed from Denmark, Holger Rune, who eventually overcame Taylor Fritz 2-6 7-6(2) 6-3.

Ruud didn’t have the best of results last year, but he seems to have recovered his poise and focus having now strung together 10 wins from 12 matches since reaching the quarter finals of the Australian Open.

And in Monfils, at 37-year-old French veteran, he found himself facing an experienced opponent who was also on a good run having knocked out Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz and in the round of 16, Cameron Norrie who only capitulated after three hours of play.

Maybe that effort exhausted the unseeded Frenchman who was seen gasping for breath as he tried to keep ahead of Ruud, especially in the second set after pocketing the opener with some excellent fluid tennis and a series of winners.

Ruud managed to hold on and having found his range, started a fightback, it was left to a tiebreak were the ninth seed prevailed.

Monfils had a chance at a break in the opening stage of the decider, but after failing to convert that, he dropped serve himself which paved the way for Ruud to secure a 3-6 7-6(3) 6-4 victory in just under two and a half hours.

“I felt physically good and ready,” said Ruud, who has now saved 10 of 11 break points faced this tournament. “Really tough second set, it fortunately went my way. I saved a few break points there and was clutch enough in the tie-break.”

“I think last year it was the other way around, I lost many close matches, and a lot of three-setters didn’t go my way,” Ruud pointed out. “This year, the goal has been to get a good start in three-setters. When you’re kind of on a roll in three-setters, it’s easier to keep it going. In the back of your mind, ‘Last week, I won three three-setters, so why not do it again?’”

He will now face Tommy Paul for a place in the semi-finals, after the American beat Luca Nardi, conqueror of Novak Djokovic, 6-4 6-3. With Fritz’s departure, Paul is now the only hope of an American champion since Andre Agassi in 2001.

The American Paul ended the dream run of the Czeck Lucky Loser with an aggressive baseline game sealing victory in just 80-minutes.

“It was a cool matchup today. He played really well, and we pushed each other early in the first set and then I started getting really comfortable coming to the net,” Paul said.


Holger Rune was one point away from defeat

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Meanwhile Rune’s comeback included saving a match point before dispatching the home favourite Fritz.

“It was crazy. Really just stayed in the moment, kept fighting,” Rune said in his on-court interview following the two-hour, 16-minute victory.

“Tried to play from point to point and I thought I managed to raise my level quite amazingly at the end of the second set.”

It was at that stage that the 20-year-old gained control of the match having fended off a match point during a seven-minute game at 4-5 in the second set.

“He was controlling it from the first set and a long time of the second set as well. I’m just happy that I kept fighting and kept believing that I was going to find my rhythm at some point,” admitted Rune, who hit 29 winners.

Rune will next meet fourth seed and last year’s finalist Daniil Medvedev in the last eight for their first meeting on a hardcourt having split their previous two encounters on clay.

“I’m a player that’s going to attack. I don’t care who I play, I’m going to attack anyways,” Rune said. “Against Daniil, it’s a completely different match from today. I think the only similarity [Fritz and Medvedev] have is the big serve, otherwise they are two different players.”


Daniil Medvedev chases down a forehand

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The Russian, who has now reached the last eight at Indian Wells for the second year running, progressed to the quarter finals by defeating Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-4, making just five unforced errors in the process.

He also became the latest player to criticise the balls being used.

“It’s not easy for everyone to play here, especially this year because they changed the balls and it’s even tougher to control it,” he said afterwards.

“It’s tricky and also when it’s windy and the sand comes on the court, it feels like it’s 10 times faster. I’m trying my best and I’m happy to beat a great opponent. I played well and was really consistent.”




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