Coming into this week, Casper Ruud sits at No. 24 in the world, matching the career-high ranking he set back in February. In his most recent tournament appearance, the Norwegian reached the semifinals of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters after defeating three consecutive Top 20 players—including defending champion Fabio Fognini.
On Wednesday, Ruud carried his recent momentum over to Munich with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-2 victory against Pablo Cuevas at the BMW Open. The No. 2 seed did not face a break point throughout the contest, winning an impressive 89 percent of his second-serve points to dismiss the six-time ATP clay-court titlist in 68 minutes.
“I’m very pleased with the start to this tournament. Cuevas is always dangerous, especially on the clay. Unfortunately for him, he’s been a bit injured since the Australian Open and didn’t play, so I had that in the back of my mind, that maybe that could be a small advantage for me,” Ruud told TENNIS.com after taking the second-round encounter.
“I’ve been playing clay tournaments already and won a lot of matches, so my confidence is there. I knew my game was going well heading into Munich. I tried to be ready from the beginning. I was fortunate to get a break early and I think that helped me calm down the shoulders a bit. In the second set, I played very well, took care of my chances.”
Ruud moved to 2-0 versus Cuevas, adding to his 2019 quarterfinal upset in Kitzbuhel, where the Uruguayan was the seeded player. The 22-year-old has won 11 of the 15 matches he’s played in 2021, and faces No. 8 seed John Millman next. The Australian moved into the last eight when Guido Pella retired with an injury after leading, 6-4, 0-2.
Top seed Alexander Zverev also opened his campaign, dispatching lucky loser Ricardas Berankis, 6-2, 6-4. At this event in 2017, the German lifted his first ATP clay-court trophy and successfully defended his crown the following year.
The sixth-ranked Zverev is seeking his 15th career title, having triumphed in March at the 500-level tournament in Acapulco against Stefanos Tsitsipas. He awaits Ilya Ivashka, a 6-7 (7), 6-1, 6-2 winner over fellow qualifier Mackenzie McDonald.