A trio of seeds fell at the quarter-final stage of the Winston-Salem Open, led to the exit door by top seeded Pablo Carreno Busta, who went down to Ilya Ivashka, while Richard Gasquet met his match in Emil Ruusuvuori and Frances Tiafoe ousted by Mikael Ymer, but Carlos Alcaraz, the only surviving seed, got past Marcos Giron on Thursday in North Carolina.
I thought that I’m able to win the tournament in the first round. I think I have the game, I’m playing really, really well. I’m feeling really comfortable on court. Carlos Alcaraz
Ivashka sent down 11 aces in taking out Carreno Busta, 7-6(2) 6-3, the Belarusian basically outplaying the Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist from Spain.
They both won their 6 service games in the first set, before a couple of mini-breaks in the tiebreak enabled Ivashka to claim it.
A pair of breaks in the second saw Ivashka advance to meet Finland’s Ruusuvuori for a place in the final.
Ruusuvuori saw off Gasquet, the 14th-seed Frenchman, 7-6(5) 6-1, while 13th seeded Tiafoe from the USA, who beat Andy Murray earlier in the tournament, went down to Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, 6-7(2) 6-2 6-3.
The Finn took down the former World No 7 in 93 minutes, the third straight seed he had felled to reach his third career semi-final, to reach his 3rd tour-level semi-final.
Gasquet made early inroads by taking the opening set in the breaker but the 22-year-old Finn grabbed the momentum as the Frenchman visibly struggled in the hot and humid conditions.
Ruusuvuori won 78 per cent of his first-serve points and 56 per cent on of second-serve points.
“I thought that first set was a very high level,” he said. “He’s a great player.
“He’s been playing on tour almost more years than I have in my life.
“The break back [in the first set] was key. Obviously, we saw that everything wasn’t quite there physically with him, so that’s a pity.”
Meanwhile, Spain’s Alcaraz, seeded 15, dismissed another American, Giron, 7-6(2) 6-2.
The 18-year old saw off the No 65 ranked Giron after an hour 40 minutes, lining up a showdown with Ymer.
Alcaraz is the last seed standing and makes no secret of his desire to clinch the title here at Wake Forest University.
“I thought that I’m able to win the tournament in the first round,” Alcaraz said. “I think I have the game, I’m playing really, really well. I’m feeling really comfortable on court.”
The Spaniard fell to Ymer in their only prior meeting in the second round of this year’s Australian Open, but the teenager feels he has grown as a player since and fancies his chances against the 22-year-old.
“I’m really happy to make my first ATP semi-final on hard court, really excited to play,” Alcaraz added. “I played him once in Australia. He beat me… I think I’m ready and I’m hoping to be able to get the win.
“Everybody knows he’s a great player, really tough but I’m ready for this battle. I played him in Australia but I’m more ready than I was in Australia,” he added in his on-court interview.
Alcaraz won 73 per cent of first-serve points and 70 per cent on second serves against Giron. He broke just once from six chances.
Ymer, had to come from behind to improve his record against Tiafoe to 2-1.
The American, who was unable to inflict any doubt on the Swede and refused to be fazed, lost the rhythm and patience he displayed in the opening set as he increasingly overplayed in the final set.
“I feel good. It’s fun playing a tournament again after a couple of weeks off training in Stockholm,” Ymer said. “I think it was important today to stay composed.
“Frances is obviously very talented and can come up with great shots and good variety in his game. Staying composed and just waiting for an opening was a very important task today.”