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Opportunity knocks for Ruud – and others – as seeds fall in Montreal
With four out of the top five seeds falling at the first hurdle in Montreal, Casper Ruud is emerging as a threat to win his first Masters 1000 – but he’s not the only one.
It has been a strange start to the 2022 National Bank Open in Montreal. For the first time since Indian Wells in 1999, a Masters 1000 saw its top three seeds each lose in their very first match. Top-seeded Daniil Medvedev (Kyrgios), second-seeded Carlos Alcaraz (Paul) and third seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas (Draper)? All gone on Wednesday.
Fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev’s loss to Dan Evans made it four out of the top four seeds, out of the draw without a single victory.
Ruud bucks the trend
Only Norway’s Casper Ruud, seed number four, has been able to find his footing on the hard courts of Montreal this week. The Norwegian has defeated Alex Molcan (7-6(1), 6-3) and Roberto Bautista Agut (6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-4) to reach the quarter-finals, and he’s hoping he can continue his quest for a first Masters 1000 title well into the weekend.
Thursday’s victory over Bautista Agut was a big step for the 23-year-old world No 7, and one that he relished, after losing his two previous matches to the Spaniard. The two men made 99 winners, in quite a quality match !
“Every match you want to win and you are motivated to win, but this one was a bit extra special – it was against a player that I never beat before,” he said. “It was such good quality of the first two sets, he was playing well, I was playing well, and I didn’t feel like I was able to find any holes in his game. It was frustrating, having the break in the second set, then he came back, but luckily I won it in a tiebreak.
“He’s a very tough player, one of the best for the last six, seven, eight years and someone I think all young players should look up to, how professional he is and how great of a fighter, runner and competitor he is.”
A big opportunity?
With his victory Ruud becomes one of the top favourites in Montreal, even if he has never won a Masters 1000 before. But he has been close: he was beaten by Carlos Alcaraz in the final at Miami this April.
The draw now includes only one player who have already won a Masters 1000: Hubert Hurkacz (No8, Miami 2021).
Even if Nick Kyrgios looks like in the shape of his live, why not Casper?
“For sure, but still there are many other great players that can win this tournament, and that are still left – from now on it will be interesting to see what’s going to to happen in the tournament,” he said.
Don’t sleep on Sinner and Auger-Aliassime, either
This fragmented draw also looks like an open door for Félix Auger-Aliassime (seeded No 8), who have never won a tournament at this level, or even Nick Kyrgios recent winner at Washington, D.C. and a player that is coming into his own on tour this summer.
Ruud will be tested when he faces the home favourite Auger-Aliassime on Friday – the pair have split two previous meetings, with Ruud winning on clay in Madrid in 2021 and Auger-Aliassime winning on hard at Miami in 2019.