The upcoming Norwegian Casper Ruud arrived in Houston after losing the second round clash at Monterrey Challenger, returning to his beloved clay and entering the third ATP quarter-final of the season with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 triumph over the 4th seed Reilly Opelka in an hour and 50 minutes.
It was a close encounter between two youngsters and Casper grabbed the win with two breaks, converting both chances he created and saving three out of four break points to cross the finish line first and move into the last eight.
Reilly fired 16 aces and gave his best to stay in touch on his least favorite surface, winning a set but standing no chance on the return in the decider, unable to send it into a tie break. The American was the better player in the opener, creating four break points and stealing Ruud's serve at 5-4 after a costly double fault from the Norwegian.
The second set offered nine easy holds on both sides and one loose service game from Reilly who got broken at 15 in the opening game following a deep return from Casper who lost just two points behind the initial shot in five games!
Serving for the set at 5-4, the Norwegian fired four winners to clinch it and set up a decider where he was the favorite now, continuing to serve well and mount the pressure on the other side of the net. Just like in set number two, Opelka couldn't even think about break points and the decisive moment came in game seven when he netted an easy volley to move Casper in front.
Ruud had a chance to close the match in game ten and he delivered a hold at love to secure the place in the quarters, happy with the way he performed and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the event. Marcel Granollers needed just 47 minutes to dismiss Bernard Tomic 6-1, 6-2, dropping five points on serve and repelling all three break points at the start of the second set for one of the best performances in recent years.
On the other hand, Tomic served at above 70% but no one could notice that after he dropped more than 50% of the points behind the initial shot, facing five break points and getting broken on each to propel Marcel into the last eight for the first time since Newport last July.
A qualifier Henri Laaksonen took down Ryan Harrison 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 46 minutes, erasing six out of eight break points and converting four out of 15 he created to advance into the quarters. The Swiss kicked off the match in the best possible style, opening a 4-0 lead and staying ahead until game ten when he served out for the opener.
Harrison fought off three match points on serve at 3-5 in set number two, pulling the break back in the next game to level the score at 5-5 before Henri claimed the last two games to clinch the triumph and avoid a decider.
In one of the longest matches in the history of the tournament, Christian Garin toppled the 2nd seed Jeremy Chardy 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, in three hours and five minutes, winning just one point more than the Frenchman. Chardy hit 13 double faults although he managed to save ten out of 14 break points, scoring five breaks from 18 opportunities which wasn't enough to push him over the finish line.
Jeremy controlled the pace in the opener and brought it home with a single break in game six, losing the edge in set number two where Christian opened a 5-2 gap. Chardy bounced back to level the score and reach a tie break that the youngster won 7-4 to extend the match and send it into a decider.
There, the battle was on for more than an hour and a half, with Chardy leading 5-3 and having four match points up for grabs on own serve in game nine. Garin saved them all and broke back after a double fault from Jeremy, surviving until the tie break where Chardy had another match point at 7-6.
He sent a slow second serve return out and the Chilean completed one of the best wins ever when his rival sprayed a forehand error in the 16th point.