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Birthday boy Tsitsipas advances in Toronto to meet hard-court resurgent Ruud

Stefanos Tsitsipas soars past Karen Khachanov in straight sets at the Toronto Masters 1000 on Thursday. Tsitsipas will meet Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrated his 23rd birthday with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Karen Khachanov in round three of the National Bank Open on Thursday. Tsitsipas won 93 percent of his first-serve points and saved both of the break points he faced to prevail in one hour and 19 minutes.

Khachanov was coming off a silver-medal performance at the Tokyo Olympics, but he had no answers for his opponent with a spot in the Toronto quarter-finals on the line. The Russian was broken on three occasions, in part because he served at just 59 percent and double-faulted four times.

After breaking Khachanov once in the opening set, Tsitsipas dominated the second with a pair of breaks.

Ruud on a roll

Up next for Tsitsipas is a showdown against Casper Ruud, who extended his winning streak to 14 matches by defeating Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday. Ruud is coming off three consecutive clay-court titles at the ATP 250 level — in Bastad, Gstaad, and Kitzbuhel.

All seven of the Norwegian’s ATP finals (5-2 record) have come on the red stuff. He has engaged in an ongoing feud with Nick Kyrgios about his perceived inability to play well on hard courts, but it is Ruud who has the upper hand in the debate at the Toronto Masters. While Kyrgios went out in the first round to Reilly Opelka, Ruud is through to the quarter-finals. He preceded his win over Lajovic by beating Marin Cilic in three sets on Wednesday.

The only previous ATP-level encounter between Tsitsipas and Ruud came at the Madrid Masters earlier this season. Ruud emerged victorious 7-6(4), 6-4.

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