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Hurkacz Wins His First Clay Match of the Year at Estoril, and Ruud Moves Forward

Hubert Hurkacz reached the quarterfinals of the Millennium Estoril Open on Thursday, earning his first victory on clay courts of the year.

In one hour and forty-nine minutes, the second-seeded Pole defeated British qualifier Jan Choinski 7-6(5), 6-4. Hurkacz overcame a 3-5 deficit in the opening set to advance to the ATP 250 in Portugal by hitting six aces in the second set.

“It was positive. I got the win in the end,” Hurkacz declared, “It has been challenging playing the first match of the year on the clay court. You have to adjust to the movement and [I did not] have that much time to prepare for the tournament, it is difficult.”

“It is a little bit frustrating as you know you are not doing the right stuff and wish you felt more comfortable on the surface. You just have to deal with it and fight.”

Hurkcaz, who is looking for his first championship of the year, is currently 6-1 in 2024 opening-round contests. After the Spaniard defeated his own countryman David Jorda Sanchis 7-6(2), 6-4, he will now take on Pablo Llamas Ruiz.

Casper Ruud, the reigning champion, defeated Botic van de Zandschulp 6-1, 6-2 to start his title defense. After seventy-five minutes, the top-seeded Norwegian prevailed by saving both of his break points.

Nine of Ruud’s ten tour-level victories have come on clay; his most recent ATP Tour triumph occurred at Estoril last year. The No. 8 player in the PIF ATP Rankings will take on Marton Fucsovics, who defeated Gael Monfils 1-6, 6-1, 7-5, while saving three match points, to try to win the title.

A match between two former players ranked in the Top 10, Richard Gasquet defeated Dominic Thiem 6-4, 7-6(6).

After two hours and three minutes, the Frenchman, who took home the title at Estoril in 2015, prevailed on his second match point after saving two set points in the second-set tie-break from 4/6. After winning, Gasquet and Thiem’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series is now tied at 3-3.

After defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 6-4, Pedro Martinez advances to his first tour-level quarterfinal of the year, where Gasquet will take against Martinez.

Nuno Borges, ranked first in Portugal, progressed as well, beating Italian Lorenzo Musetti 7-6(4), 6-3 in one hour and 37 minutes. This week, Borges hopes to win his first title at the tour level. He saved two set points on serve at 5-6 in the opening set.

Since Joao Domingues in 2019, Borges is the first man from Portugal to make it to the final eight in Estoril.

The 27-year-old made his major league debut at the Australian Open earlier this season, where he also took home an ATP Challenger Tour championship in Phoenix.

Fucsovics defeated seventh seed Monfils in a thrilling match to end the day’s play. In the decisive set, Fucsovics held three match points on serve at 4-5 and then won three straight games to seize the win.

In the process, the Hungarian reached his 22nd tour-level quarterfinal and his fourth on clay thanks to his second Top 50 victory of the year. This will be the first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting between him and Ruud, therefore he will look for another. In their previous meeting, which took place in a Challenger in Budapest in 2017, Fucsovics won 6-0, 6-0 at home.

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