Stricker beat world number eight Caspar Ruud in Basel. Photo: EPA Keystone
Dominik Stricker has reached his first quarter-final at the Swiss Indoors Championships in Basel. The 21-year-old from Bern beat world number eight Casper Ruud 6:4, 3:6, 7:6 (7:1) and prevents Switzerland from defeat.
Candidates have a tough time at Swiss Indoors. Fortunately for the tournament, the Swiss was also one of these surprises. Dominik Stricker (ATP ’96) beat a top-ten player for the second time after Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open – and he did it deservedly.
Stricker will play in the quarter-finals for the third time in the ATP Championship on Friday against Frenchman Ugo Humbert (28 players), who is four years older than him, which is the first in two good years. The two left-handers have never played against each other.
Stricker was the most active player against Norwegian Ruud and created many chances. After a strong first set in which he managed the only break to make it 3-2, he could – or even should – have won in two sets.
With the score at 2:2, the 21-year-old wasted four chances for a first decision. On the other hand, the three-time Grand Slam finalist and two-time winner in Gstaad and Geneva was offered a break until 3:5 with two double faults appearing. This was Bernez’s only loss on serve, as he recovered in the deciding round – also because he made up for a 0:40 loss in the first game.
Difficult moments survived
“I had some difficult moments at the end of the second set and the beginning of the third set,” said the Bernese player from Grosochetten, who also needed care for his right knee. “But in the end I played an unbelievable tiebreaker.” Stricker was particularly persuasive when it came to his own ministry.
Just the exploitation of his break opportunities left something to be desired. Out of twelve chances, he only used one in the first round. However, in the tiebreaker, Stricker was clearly the better player and earned one of his most important wins after 2:25 hours. More importantly, it prevented a Swiss from qualifying to the quarter-finals of the Swiss Indoor Championships for the first time since 2005.
After losing five in a row before the tournament in Basel, Stricker is now “very happy” with his form again. “The fans also helped me a lot.”
Favorites continue to die
Before Thursday night’s two late games, five seeds already had to give up. After Stan Wawrinka, world number nine Taylor Fritz also fell short against Russian qualifier Alexander Shevchenko (ATP 83) – after three tiebreaks and wasting two match points. Ruud and Fritz lost valuable ground in the battle for one of the three remaining spots in the ATP Finals.
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