On Thursday afternoon, 23-year-old Casper Ruud, the fourth seed at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating 34-year-old Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in Montréal.
Without Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Norwegian ace is the highest ranked player in the draw. Incidentally, the fifth seed Andrey Rublev was also sent packing.
Ruud had to fight for 3 hours and 18 minutes to overpower Bautista Agut—a monster of consistency and resilience—in three sets, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4. The match was made even longer by a 68-minute rain delay after the first game of the final set. It seems that Ruud came out fresher and, at the very least, more energetic.
The two players, who each hit 10 aces, earned break points in the first two sets, but the outcome was decided in the third when Ruud broke Bautista Agut to take a 3-2 lead. From then on, there were several break points Ruud wasn’t able to capitalize on, but he still continued to dominate.
Playing more offensively and taking more risks, the Norwegian decided to move up and attack to avoid having his backhand pummeled—something the Spaniard hadn’t really done up until then.
“It’s a long day and a long match,” said the winner. “I tried to make the most of my chances to get through it. It’s never easy against him.”
The win is Ruud’s first in their three confrontations.
“For the rest of the tournament, being the favourite doesn’t mean much. I’m going to have to keep fighting, regardless of the opponent or opponents.”
Ruud has won nine career titles, including three this year. One of them was on hard courts, while the others were on clay, his surface of choice.