Third seed Casper Ruud continued his strong clay-court form on Thursday as he moved past Dennis Novak 6-4, 7-6(5) in his opening match at the Swiss Open Gstaad to reach the quarter-finals.
The Norwegian currently sits in 10th place in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, having claimed his second ATP Tour title of this season last week at the Nordea Open (d. Coria). Ruud, who has now won 21 clay-court matches this season, also lifted the Gonet Geneva Open (d. Shapovalov) trophy in May.
After his recent success, Ruud admitted qualifying for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals in November is a main goal, saying: “It is something you look up to [qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals]. It shows you have been one of the best players on Tour.
“It is definitely something I am aiming for, and if it happens this year that will be amazing. In tennis, you need to take your chances and earn your way up.”
Ruud produced a dominant display against Novak in Gstaad. He won 89 per cent (17/19) of his first-service points, and did not face a break point to advance in one hour and 38 minutes. He will next play sixth-seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire after Tallon Griekspoor was forced to retire after losing the first set 6-4.
“I have an incredible motivation to play on clay this year, especially after the cancellation of clay events last season,” Ruud said. “I think I am playing with a high intensity and good mentality on every point. At this level, it is normally a couple of points that decide a match.
“Even today it was a tight second set that could have gone either way, and if I hadn’t won that second set it would have been a tough three setter.”
Ruud struck the ball well throughout from the baseline, hitting with great depth as he moved the Austrian about. He found the decisive break in the 10th game of the first set to move ahead and raised his level in the second set tie-break to advance.