Ruud Breezes Past Paire In Geneva

Opelka, Griekspoor also advance at ATP 250 event

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.

“Everything went my way a little bit," said Ruud after improving his ATP Head2Head series lead over Paire to 4-0. "I was broken at the beginning, so it was not the best start but then I found my game a little bit better and got some free points here and there.

"It probably wasn’t his best serving performance, so that helped me obviously and I was able to get my game going well.”

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.

Ilya Ivashka earned his first victory over a Top 20 opponent in 2022 at the fifth attempt with an impressive 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3 win over third seed Denis Shapovalov. Ivashka bounced back from losing the second-set tie-break to surge to a 4-1 lead in the deciding set against the World No. 15, keeping his composure to complete a two-hour, 17-minute win. The triumph takes the 2021 Winston-Salem champion to his second tour-level quarter-final of the year.

His opponent there will be Joao Sousa, who enjoyed a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 25-ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili. 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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