Francisco Cerundolo withstood his own nerves and a strong comeback from defending champion Casper Ruud to cause a second-round upset and claim his first Top 10 victory at the Nordea Open in Bastad on Wednesday afternoon.
Cerundolo broke the serve of Roland Garros finalist Ruud three times to eliminate a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 winner at the ATP 250 event in Sweden. Although world number 5 Ruud raised his level after a slow start to put pressure on the 23-year-old Argentine, Cerundolo grabbed a decisive break in the 12th game of the third set to reach the quarter-finals in Bastad for the first time.
“I feel great, I’m really happy,” Cerundolo said after the game. “It’s amazing to get my first Top 10 win. It’s been the best year of my career so far. He is a Roland-Garros runner-up and was the defending champion here, so it was a big challenge for me and I’m happy to have succeeded.”
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Cerundolo and Ruud’s only previous meeting was in the semifinals of the Miami Open presented by Itau in March. The Norwegian was a comfortable winner in straight sets on this occasion, but Cerundolo was clinical at key moments on Wednesday as Ruud struggled to find his rhythm in his first match on clay since falling to Rafael Nadal in the of the Roland Garros championship match in early June. .
“I think the key was to be attacking and try to dictate the point,” Cerundolo said. “Playing smart with my forehand and trying to put it on defense.
“It’s always difficult to beat the best players. I was tight at the end, but I stayed there and got the ball in, and I’m really happy.
Cerundolo, who is up to No. 35 in the Pepperstone ATP live rankings, will next face Aslan Karatsev as he seeks his third tour-level semifinal of 2022. Karatsev, 28, was a 6-2, 6 – 4 winner of the second round against Hugo Gaston in Sweden to reach his first quarter-final of the Tour since Marseille in February.
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Earlier Wednesday, Pablo Carreno Busta picked up his 250th tour-level win with a hard-fought 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 win over 2016 champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Both players broke their opponents’ serve five times in a topsy-turvy second-round clash, but it was Carreno Busta who prevailed to make it 4-0 on clay against fellow Spaniard Ramos-Vinolas, those four encounters having gone to a deciding set. The fifth seed is looking to qualify for the semi-finals in Bastad for the first time in his fifth appearance at the ATP 250 event.
Carreno Busta next faces third seed Diego Schwartzman, who ended home interest in the tie with a 7-5, 6-3 second-round win over Elias Ymer. Schwartzman, who reached the Tour finals on clay in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro this year, is making his second Bastad appearance after reaching the quarter-finals on his debut in 2017.