Casper Ruud recovered from a slow start in his opening match at the BMW Open by American Express Thursday, edging Slovakian Alex Molcan 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals in Munich.
The Norwegian struggled to find his range in the first set as Molcan forced Ruud into errors with his brutal ball-striking and accuracy. However, the second seed started to hit with greater consistency and depth as the match went on to advance after two hours and 17 minutes in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
“It was a very tough test. I didn’t get off to a great start,” Ruud said. “But I was able to fight back and find my rhythm and luckily I was able to do it a little bit towards the end of the first set, which I still lost, but it gave me some confidence for the second set.
“I started the second set well, I broke him right away. The third set was really close and even but I was able to get the break. It gives me confidence I am able to win matches like these.”
Ruud, who reached the semi-finals in Munich last year, is the highest seed left in the draw following top seed Alexander Zverev’s shock exit against #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old will be aiming to bounce back from his disappointing Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-final defeat to Pablo Carreno Busta and win his second tour-level title of the season at the ATP 250 event, after triumphing in Buenos Aires in February.
With his victory, the World No. 7 has improved to 8-2 on clay in 2022 and will next play Botic van de Zandschulp in his fourth quarter-final of the year.
“It will be another tough challenge,” Ruud said. “I lost to him at the US Open last year. That was the tournament he made a name for himself and started playing really well. I need to be prepared for a tough match.”
The Dutchman swept aside qualifier Egor Gerasimov 6-2, 6-3 to advance to the last eight at a tour-level event for the third time in 2022.
Van de Zandschulp, currently at a career-high No. 40 in the ATP Rankings, won 86 per cent (24/28) of his first-serve points and saved the one break point he faced to seal victory after 69 minutes.