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Casper Ruud made a quickfire start to his title defence at the Gonet Geneva Open on Wednesday as the World No. 8 eased to a 6-3, 6-1 second-round victory over Benoit Paire.

The Norwegian had endured a moderate European clay season by his standards prior to last week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but Ruud appeared back to his best in his semi-final run in Rome. He brought that form to the Geneva clay, bludgeoning the ball off both wings to overwhelm his opponent at the ATP 250 event.

A bright start from Paire saw the Frenchman break in the third game of the match, but that was as good as it got for the 33-year-old at the Tennis Club de Geneve. Ruud’s accuracy and baseline power helped the World No. 8 reclaim the break immediately as Paire struggled for consistency, and four further breaks of the Frenchman’s serve followed as Ruud raced to a 55-minute victory.

Although the solid nature of Ruud’s game was key to his win, the Norwegian also produced moments of inspiration in a complete performance. An improvised volley return while running backwards to retrieve a Paire lob was a particular highlight, as the evening crowd in Geneva was treated to a series of entertaining exchanges between the two players.

Ruud is seeking an eighth tour-level title in Geneva, where his quarter-final opponent will be Thanasi Kokkinakis. The Australian earlier recovered from a difficult start to overcome Federico Delbonis, 1-6, 7-5, 7-5.

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Fourth seed Reilly Opelka earlier notched his first win of the European clay season with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Australian qualifier Christopher O’Connell.

Opelka has been unable to build on his maiden tour-level clay-court title, claimed on home soil in Houston in April, with the American losing opening matches in Munich, Madrid and Rome since that triumph. The 24-year-old put his huge serve to good use in his victory over O’Connell, however, firing 13 aces and dropping just five points behind his first delivery in an 89-minute win.

Opelka’s quarter-final opponent will be Tallon Griekspoor, after the Dutchman brushed past Swiss qualifier Johan Nikles, 6-3, 7-5.

Joao Sousa enjoyed a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 25-ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili to book a quarter-final clash with third seed Denis Shapovalov or Ilya Ivashka. Sousa had not been past the second round in Geneva since reaching the championship match in 2015, but he broke fifth-seeded Basilashvili’s serve three times in an 83-minute win to improve his ATP Head2Head series lead over the Georgian to 2-0.


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