© Generali Open/Alexander Scheuber

Casper Ruud wins 65 per cent of his second-serve points to defeat Mario Vilella Martinez on Wednesday in Kitzbühel.

Ruud Battles On In Kitzbühel, Begins Pursuit Of Third Consecutive Title

Second seed Bautista Agut and fourth seed Ramos-Vinolas fall

It was not easy, but Casper Ruud extended his winning streak to eight matches on Wednesday evening. The Norwegian battled past Spanish lucky loser Mario Vilella Martinez 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 to reach the Generali Open quarter-finals.

“It was obviously very tough. You can see it in the score,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “I didn’t start too well and Mario played well in the beginning and heavy and [like] a typical Spanish clay-court player. He was playing good.

“He’s a very strong player, he can hit very strong balls, good serve. I just tried to neutralise the serve as good as I could. I wasn’t able to do it so well, but one break here and there can be enough and at the end of the day, I’m happy that it’s the end of the day and that I won the match.”

It is rare that Ruud has been tested over the past few weeks. The top seed arrived in Kitzbühel fresh off back-to-back titles in Bastad and Gstaad, and in his seven matches at those events he lost just one total set. Ruud will next play fellow Next Gen ATP Finals alumnus Mikael Ymer, who eliminated Austrian wild card Alexander Erler 6-2, 6-3.

Watch Wednesday Kitzbühel Highlights:

It took more than three hours, but Pedro Martinez was able to secure the biggest win of his career by FedEx ATP Ranking earlier in the day. The 24-year-old Spaniard outlasted countryman Roberto Bautista Agut, the second seed, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-5 after three hours and six minutes to reach the quarter-finals. It is his first trip to the last eight of an ATP Tour event this season.

"It was a really good battle from the start until the end. We both fought almost every point. I respect him so much," Martinez said in his on-court interview. "What he's done on the Tour in past years is amazing. We are from the same region in Spain. Today it's unbelievable to play this match against him on this nice court."

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Martinez, who defeated World No. 17 Gael Monfils just weeks ago at Wimbledon, broke World No. 16 Bautista Agut's serve five times and won 43 per cent of his return points. The two-time ATP Challenger Tour titlist will next play Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik, who eliminated Czech lefty Jiri Vesely 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 after one hour and 58 minutes.

Bautista Agut was not the only seeded Spaniard who lost, as Italian Gianluca Mager upset fourth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(3), 1-6, 7-5 after two hours and 22 minutes. Third seed Filip Krajinovic maintained his title hopes by clawing past Spanish lucky loser Carlos Taberner 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 after two hours and four minutes.

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