WATCH: Auger-Aliassime saved three match points in the second-set tiebreaker to shock IW champ Norrie in Vienna.

Six Turin hopefuls entered the Erste Bank Open aiming to strengthen their case for one of the two spots still on offer at the Nitto ATP Finals.

After a day of dramatic Round of 16 clashes, more than half are still alive at the 500-level event, including the ATP Race’s No. 7, Casper Ruud. The looming Masters 1000 in Paris-Bercy means the Norwegian can’t clinch his place at the Finals this week, but he can continue creating distance between himself and Hubert Hurkacz, who fell to former world No. 1 Andy Murray in the first round.

Champion at the Miami Open earlier this year, Hurkacz may end up surpassed by his runner-up—and Ruud’s next opponent—Jannik Sinner, who stormed past local favorite Dennis Novak in straight sets; the Italian needs to reach the semis to move further up the FedEx ATP Race rankings. Argentine Diego Schwartzman also kept himself in contention for Turin with a thrilling three-set win over Gaël Monfils.

The biggest matches of the day played out on Glaubandich Court—which roughly (and aptly) translates to “Believe in yourself”—where both Ruud and Félix Auger-Aliassime relied on inner strength to survive in-form opposition

Here’s what you missed in Vienna:


Auger-Aliassime improved to 2-0 over Norrie after an over two-and-a-half-hour battle.

Auger-Aliassime improved to 2-0 over Norrie after an over two-and-a-half-hour battle.

[6] Félix Auger-Aliassime def. Cameron Norrie, 2-6 7-6 (6), 6-4

Set aside seeding and this was very much an upset that ensued on Glaubandich Thursday afternoon. Cameron Norrie is fresh off a career breakthrough at the BNP Paribas Open, where he captured the biggest title of his career to put himself in position to Turin.

Where Norrie’s has been a stunning ascension, Auger-Aliassime has long been thought to inherit the Big 3’s throne. Instead, the Canadian has been more or less a mixed bag, reaching his first major semifinal at the US Open but has continued struggling in finals with an egregious 0-8 record—including two more runner-up finishes in 2021.

Looking to avenge a 2019 Indian Wells defeat against the tour’s dithering dauphin, Norrie played flawless tennis through his first 30 points on serve, holding at love in his first seven attempts.

Auger-Aliassime, who teamed up with Uncle Toni Nadal earlier this season, showed remarkable poise through the onslaught and eventually began making in-roads on the Brit’s serve, engineering a break point in the eighth game of the second set and kept things close as a tiebreaker began.

From triple match point down, the 21-year-old reeled off the final five points of the Sudden Death to turn the match upside down and in a final reversal, scored the only break of the final set at love.

The No. 6 seed will next play either Aussie Alex de Minaur or No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev, who qualified for the Finals two weeks ago in the No. 4 slot.


Ruud is up to a career-high ranking of world No. 8 this week, having won five titles in 2021.

Ruud is up to a career-high ranking of world No. 8 this week, having won five titles in 2021.

[4] Casper Ruud def. Lorenzo Sonego, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4

With more than 50 match wins in 2021, an ATP Finals berth ought to be a foregone conclusion for the world No. 8. It becomes a question of quantity over quality, however, when half of those wins have come on the 250 level. Vienna, then, becomes an opportunity for the 22-year-old to add a first 500 victory to his fast-growing trophy collection.

But first came an intriguing challenge against 2020 finalist and would-be pop star Lorenzo Sonego, who allowed Novak Djokovic just three games at this event last year. A tenser encounter unfolded on Glaubandich, one in which Ruud rallied from a break down to take the opening set and moved within a point of serving for the match in the second.

Like Ruud, Sonego also reached a Masters 1000 semifinal this season—at home in Rome—and has similarly proven himself a player for all surfaces with solid results on clay, grass, and hard courts. Serving his way out of trouble, he turned the tables on Ruud in the very next game to force a final set, later saving more break points to hold on for 4-4 in the third.

Ruud would make no mistake on his second look at the finish line and, after putting in a crucial hold for 5-4, engineered two more break points to clinch the match in just under three hours.

Next comes a Vienna rematch with Sinner, who won their 2020 meeting in the Austrian capital last fall. Victorious in Antwerp just last week, Sinner could usurp Ruud’s spot in the race should he continue his win streak and win a fifth title.