Garin places – Cristian gives Casper Ruud awakening

CHILEAN Cristian Garin stunned world number four Casper Ruud overnight to advance through to the fourth round of Indian Wells. The clay court dominant player has had a horrid last couple of years, tumbling out of the Top 20 down to 97th in the world, but in their Round of 32 clash, Garin won in straight sets, 6-4 7-6.

Coming into the match, Garin had a 2-1 head-to-head record, but both his wins came way back in 2019. The most recent clash between the pair – at the 2022 ATP Cup – went comfortably to the higher-ranked Rudd. However in the heat of Indian Wells, the Chilean talent proved to be the better one, getting up thanks to a hard-fought 7-2 tiebreak in a match that lasted just under two hours.

In the win, Garin won 80 per cent of his first serve points, and produced five aces with three double faults, while breaking twice to Ruud’s once. In the end there was not much that separated the pair, with Ruud slightly ahead in both first serve percentage, and second serve success, but Garin’s ability to close out the match – something he has struggled to do the last couple of years – would have given the Chilean confidence.

“With a full stadium, and to play like this today against Casper, who is one of the players that I really admire on Tour, I am so, so happy to keep playing like that,” Garin said post-match. “Aggressive, going to the net, I think that’s the way that I like to play and the only way that I [can] beat these kinds of players. I’m just so happy and I want to keep improving and keep enjoying this tournament.”

Garin had to survive qualifying to reach the Indian Wells main draw, but has since won three more matches to match it a five-game winning streak in the desert. He has not dropped a set all tournament, smashing 39 winners past Ruud in what was his third Top 10 scalp of his career, but first in two years.

“I like to play aggressive and move a lot to the net, and I think Casper is a really good player when you give time to him,” Garin said. “So I try to go aggressive, go to the net, and play like that… I’ve known Casper for a very long time, so it’s very special to keep playing like this in this tournament, so I want to keep going.”

Garin will next face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the fourth round after the Spaniard took down 13th seeded Russian Karen Khachanov, 6-3 1-6 6-4. Top 10 seeds Cameron Norrie and Andrey Rublev will face off in another huge Round of 16 match, while a blockbuster battle between Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev – who both survived three-set epics – will be a close watch.

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