World number 98, Ruben Bemelmans, came to Antwerp after losing the last 5 matches, and he found the new drive in front of the home crowd, advancing to his first ATP quarter-final since Montpellier in February 2016, defeating the 3rd seed Nick Kyrgios by 6-7 6-3 6-3 in an hour and 48 minutes. Nick again struggled with his hip injury, asking for the medical timeout, and he couldn't keep the pace from the first set once he got broken in set number 2.
He fired 18 aces but Ruben was more efficient behind his first serve, and the Belgian also saved 5 out of 6 break points to limit the damage in his games. Kyrgios was broken 4 times and this defeat moves him even further away from the place in London.
Both players served well in the opening set, reaching the tie break without any problems, and Nick won it by 7-3 with 2 mini-breaks on his side. Ruben saved 2 break points at the start of the second set, which kept him in the match, and another one in game 5, before he finally scored the first break of the match in game 6, opening a 4-2 lead.
Nick broke back but his efforts were in vain, as he lost 8 out of the last 9 points, losing serve again in game 8 before Ruben held at love to force a decider. There, Nick lost his focus again and he suffered breaks in games 3 and 9 to hand the victory to his rival, who was delighted to move into the last 8 in front of his fans.
French veteran Julien Benneteau advanced to his second quarter-final of the season after a commanding 6-1 6-1 victory over Henri Laaksonen in just 54 minutes. Julien made a lot of damage with his serve, losing 10 points in 7 service games to face no break points, and he won more than 50% of the return points to keep the scoreboard under his control all the time.
Laaksonen served at only 39% and he hit 7 double faults, giving his rival 8 break chances and losing serve 5 times. Benneteau raced into a 4-0 lead with breaks in games 1 and 3, and he sealed the opener with another break for a 6-1.
He continued to serve well in set number 2 as well and he grabbed the first 5 games to jump into a 5-0 lead, closing the match with a hold at 15 in game 7 for his 8th ATP win of the season. In the first week of August, Joao Sousa played in the final of Kitzbuhel but he lost his ground completely after that, winning just 1 match before Antwerp.
Now, he will compete in his 6th quarter-final of the season after a hard-fought 5-7 6-4 6-4 triumph against Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2 hours and 2 minutes. This was their first meeting since fall of 2013 when they met twice in Russia and the Portuguese played better and better as the match progressed, saving 4 out of 5 break points and keeping his second serve safely as well.
Stakhovsky fired 18 aces but he lost serve once in sets 2 and 3, unable to do much in the last 7 return games. Sergiy saved 4 break points in the first set and he broke in the 12th game to steal the set by 7-5. In one of the crucial games of the entire encounter, Joao fends off 2 break points in the 6th game of the second set, and most importantly, he never faced a break point by the end of the match, keeping the pressure on his rival.
He earned his first break of the match in the 9th game and closed the set with another solid hold for a 6-4, sending the match into a decider. Carried by this momentum, Sousa lost just 2 points on serve in the third set and Stakhovsky couldn't make it until the tie break, getting broken in game 5 to end the match on the losing side.
Steve Darcis scored his 20th win of the season when Cedrik-Marcel Stebe was forced to retire at the start of the final set when he lost his serve after an hour and 36 minutes. It wasn't the best match the crowd could see, with both players struggling to find the right rhythm and not hitting with full power, but Darcis endured the efforts and went through the next round where he will face David Ferrer.
They traded breaks at the start of the match and Stebe scored another one in game 10, at love, to clinch the opener by 6-4. Steve was 4-2 in front in set number 2 but German came back to 4-4 with a break in game 8, only to lose his serve again in the following game.
Darcis had to work hard in the 10th game to bring the set home, saving 2 break points before he converted his second set point to stay in contention. Cedrik-Marcel got broken at 15 at the start of the final set and he decided to retire, missing a chance to win his 7th ATP match of the season. Wednesday's results: