The ATP 250 Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart has reached the quarter-final stage and there will be no top-five seeds in action, with Alexander Zverev, Gael Monfils and Karen Khachanov joining Daniil Medvedev and Nikoloz Basilashvili on the exit door.
Matteo Berrettini had played only five matches on grass on the ATP level before this week and he is looking mighty good in Stuttgart, ousting the 2nd seed Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-2 in 68 minutes to grab the 20th ATP win of the season and advance into the fourth quarter-final.
Matteo lost ten points on serve, never facing a break point and taking 43% of the return points to steal the struggling Russian's serve three times for a commanding triumph. The Italian drew first blood in the seventh game with a volley winner, securing the opener with three winners in game ten for a 6-4 after 37 minutes.
There was nothing Karen could do on the return in set number two as well and the serve wasn't there either, spraying a forehand error in the first game to get broken and finding himself 5-2 down after another volley winner from Berrettini.
Serving for the match in the next game, Matteo landed four direct points to seal the deal and move into the last eight where he would face Denis Kudla. The American loves to play on grass, scoring the 20th win on the fastest surface on the ATP level after taking down the 5th seed Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 in two hours and 18 minutes for the sixth ATP quarter-final and the fourth on grass!
Denis suffered four breaks and responded with five of his own, taking the crucial points for the second top-20 win in a career. Nothing could have separated them in the first ten games before the American found the way to clinch a break, taking the opener 7-5 after another comfortable hold in game 12.
From 4-2 down in set number two, Gael fought back with a break in game eight, reaching the tie break and taking it 7-3 with two mini-breaks that set the deciding set where he should have been the favorite. After they both served well in the opening two sets, the rivals traded four breaks in the first six games of the final set, staying neck and neck until the tie break that Denis won 7-3 to book the place in the quarters, the first since Washington last year.
An 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime has made an impressive debut on grass, beating Ernests Gulbis and Gilles Simon for the fifth quarter-final of the season, making another big step towards the top-20. Felix toppled Simon 7-5, 6-4 in an hour and 30 minutes, suffering two breaks and delivering four to stay on the title course in his first event after skipping Roland Garros.
The youngster moved in front in the third game of the match after a double fault from Simon who broke back at love in game eight to level the score at 4-4. Trailing 5-4, Auger-Aliassime had no room for errors and he did a marvelous job, breaking Gilles in game 11 and securing the opener with an ace in the next game for a 7-5 after 45 minutes.
Just like in the opener, the Canadian moved in front with a break in the third game in set number two, squandering a couple of break chances in game seven before Simon pulled the break back in game eight for more drama. The youngster was not to be denied, though, hitting a backhand winner to break Gilles in game nine and closing the encounter with an ace a few minutes later.