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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday October 28, 2021

 
Jannik Sinner

Jannik Sinner and Casper Ruud will meet in the Vienna quarterfinals on Friday.

Photo Source: Getty

Jannik Sinner’s run of torrid indoor tennis continued on Thursday in Vienna as the 20-year-old Italian powered past Dennis Novak of Austria 6-4, 6-2 to book a quarterfinal clash with Norway’s Casper Ruud.

Tennis Express

Ruud has been on fire himself, racking up a tour-leading five ATP titles in 2021 and improving his hard court performance significantly. He was 16-27 on hard courts prior to 2021. He improved to 21-6 on hard this season by topping Lorenzo Sonego 7-5 4-6 6-4 to book a meeting with Sinner for the second consecutive year at Vienna.

Last year it was Sinner claiming the 7-6(2), 6-3 victory in a first-round encounter, but Ruud is a vastly improved player 12 months later. Problem is, so is Sinner.


“It’s fun and it’s great to be in contention,” Ruud, who is holding down the No.7 spot in the Race to Turin at the moment, said on Thursday in Vienna. “I hope I can qualify of course, but I know I have strong competition coming behind and I will have to try to keep Jannik behind tomorrow.”

Ruud says he’s not surprised about how well Sinner, who has won 20 sets in a row indoors, has been playing.

“He’s playing so good, we all know,” Ruud said. “I think he’s one of the best indoor players in the world, and he beat me here last year, in the first round, so it’s fun to play here again, one year later, to see maybe the development of both. Now we are both seeded, we are playing in the quarterfinals, he’s getting closer to the Top-10 in the world and I just broke into the Top-10, so it’s very fun to see with young players, how we are evolving.”

Sinner shares the same sentiments. He believes that he will have his hands full with Ruud, and just wants to make the most of the experience while not becoming overwhelmed with the circumstances and pressure.

“He is playing well and it’s going to be a great test for both of us,” Sinner said after his victory. “I am very much looking forward to it and hopefully it’s not going to be the last time that we compete against each other.

“From last year everything has changed from both sides because of the ranking, because of the experience, and I just hope that’s going to be a great match, to be honest,” Sinner said. “Obviously the points are very important right now, but I don’t care at the moment about that – I’m just trying to stay focused about tomorrow and what I have to do.”

Auger-Aliassime Saves Three Match Points to Stop Norrie

BNP Paribas Open champion Cameron Norrie saw his chances take a hit as he fell to Felix Auger-Aliassime 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 on Thursday. Auger-Aliassime rallied from 3-6 down in the second-set tiebreak and eventually took out Norrie in three tough sets.

"I just really had in my mind that I couldn't go away easily. I wanted to push him to really beat me and deserve it in the second set," Auger-Aliassime said. "He did well. I was down three match points. In a way, I was lucky. He was so close to winning, I just hit a crazy passing shot on match point to save it, so sometimes the margins are small. That was the case today, so I'll take it."

The Canadian keeps slim Turin qualifications hopes alive. If he can pull the title at Vienna he’d enter Paris with over 100 points to make up, but that potential gap could grow if Sinner continues to win.

Auger-Aliassime will next face Alexander Zverev, who locked up his 300th career ATP win by defeating Alex de Minaur, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.


Elsewhere Diego Schwartzman advanced, defeating Gael Monfils in three sets, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2. The Argentine will face either top-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas or Frances Tiafoe in Friday’s quarterfinals.

 

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