World no. 125 Salvatore Caruso arrived in Umag with three ATP wins, two of those at Roland Garros where he qualified for the main draw to reach the third round. The 26-year-old Italian is now through to his first ATP quarter-final, defeating the 2nd seed and crowd favorite Borna Coric 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in an hour and 44 minutes, leaving the event without both of the top seeds.
Both players had to compete against seven break points and it was Caruso who did a better job in the pivotal moments, suffering two breaks and delivering five on the other side for one of the best victories of his career.
This was the first tournament for Borna after Halle when he retired due to a back injury, needing more time to find the desired form and rhythm ahead of the upcoming North American swing. Caruso broke at love in the very first game of the match after a backhand error from the Croat, moving 3-0 up after forcing a mistake from Borna in the third game and closing the opener with a hold in game eight following another loose backhand from the 2nd seed.
They traded breaks in the second and third games of the second set and it was Borna who grabbed another one in game six after a forehand error from Caruso, opening the advantage and holding at love at 5-3 to clinch the set and move the action into a decider.
There, Salvatore lost only four points in his games, breaking Coric in games two and six (a double fault) and moving over the top with a perfect hold at love at 5-1 to book the place in the quarter-final. The 4th seed Dusan Lajovic took down a former champion Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-3 in 69 minutes, dropping only 12 points on serve and stealing the youngster's serve three times.
Andrey fought back from a 3-0 deficit at the beginning of the match, wasting a game point for a 5-5 and allowing Dusan to grab the set with a return winner that gave him a break. Carried by this momentum, the Serb claimed the first 12 points of the second set, forging the advantage and bringing it home with some rock-solid serving, moving over the top with a service winner in game nine for the spot in the last eight.
In the battle of the players ranked outside the top-150, Facundo Bagnis defeated Nino Serdarusic 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 18 minutes for the first quarter-final on the ATP level since Gstaad last year. The Argentine saved two out of three break points and grabbed almost half of the return points, enough for four breaks and to control the scoreboard all the time against the opponent who scored the first ATP win here in Umag.
The Slovenian Aljaz Bedene ousted the 17-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 47 minutes, breaking the resistance of the upcoming youngster in the closing stages of the first set. It lasted for more than an hour and Jannik came back from 5-3 down to reach the tie break that Bedene won 7-3.
The Slovenian survived tough service games at the beginning and the end of the second set, scoring a break in game six and keeping the lead until the end to stay on the title course.