Tennis-Ruud stops Monfils, Nardi party ends at Indian Wells

By Thomson Reuters Mar 13, 2024 | 6:03 PM

(Reuters) – Casper Ruud ended Frenchman Gael Monfils’s run at Indian Wells with a marathon 3-6 7-6(3) 6-4 victory and will face Tommy Paul in the quarters after the American brought lucky loser Luca Nardi back down to earth with a straight-sets win on Wednesday.

After struggling to put winners past the athletic Monfils in the opening set the ninth seeded Norwegian became more aggressive in a tight second set and rolled through the tiebreak.

Ruud finally broke his 37-year-old opponent for a 3-1 lead in the deciding set and cruised to the finish.

“I felt physically good and ready,” Ruud said.

“Really tough second set, it fortunately went my way. I saved a few break points there and was clutch enough in the tiebreak.”

A nice moment came when Monfils walked to the service line trailing 3-5 in the third and the crowd rose to their feet to cheer on the fan favourite, who smiled widely and waved his racket in appreciation before holding serve.

After pulling off a stunning victory over world number one Novak Djokovic on Monday, Nardi was served a dose of reality by Paul, who hit five aces and never dropped serve en route to a businesslike 6-4 6-3 win.

The 20-year-old Italian called his win over his idol Djokovic in the prior round a “miracle” but his luck ran out against hometown hero Paul.

Paul, seeded 17th, has won just one match in five meetings with Ruud.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Toby Davis)