Rune Sees Off Mannarino To Reach Lyon QFs

Molcan takes out Khachanov, Coria upsets Carreno Busta

Holger Rune's momentum on the European clay showed no signs of slowing at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon on Wednesday afternoon.

The #NextGenATP Dane overcame staunch resistance from Adrian Mannarino to book a quarter-final spot at the ATP 250 event in France. Rune saved all five break points he faced before sealing a 6-4, 6-3 second-round win, another solid performance in a breakout season for the 19-year-old on the ATP Tour.

Rune surged to a maiden tour-level title in April in Munich without dropping a set, and rose to a career-high No. 40 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday, having only broken the Top 100 for the first time in January.

“It was a very difficult match," said the Dane after clinching his 11th Tour win of 2022. "I knew the conditions were good for him because he plays super aggressive and super close to the baseline, so I really had to try to focus on my game, to try to push him.

“It worked out very well, but of course he’s such a talented player, so it was very tough. But I’m very happy with the way I stayed focussed.”

Rune had demonstrated his resilience in winning a pair of tie-breaks to defeat another Frenchman, Arthur Rinderknech, in his opening-round match. His second-round victory may not have appeared as close as that encounter in terms of the score, but the Dane was still forced to dig deep to unlock World No. 73 Mannarino, whose flat groundstrokes were a handful in the hot and fast conditions in Lyon.

“I’m working day in and day out," said Rune when asked about his strong form on the clay. "I’m just trying to use every match to play better, to improve myself, and it [was] better today, so I’m going in the right direction.”

A solitary break of the Mannarino serve in the fifth game of the match was enough for Rune to clinch the first set, and the Dane broke at the same stage in the second set as his electric movement effectively nullified Mannarino’s flat groundstrokes. The Frenchman was still able to carve out three opportunities to break back in the sixth game, but Rune remained resilient to hold and complete a one-hour, 48-minute win.

Rune, who competed in November’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, sits third in this year’s Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan. His quarter-final opponent will be French qualifier Manuel Guinard or American lucky loser Michael Mmoh. Their second-round clash was interrupted due to bad light and will be finished on Thursday, with the score level at 5-5 in the third set.

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Earlier on Wednesday, Alex Molcan surged to a third tour-level quarter-final of the season with a 6-2, 7-6(4) win over fifth seed Karen Khachanov.

The Slovakian, who reached a second Tour final in Marrakech in April, won eight of nine games from 2-2 in the opening set to take control of his maiden ATP Head2Head meeting with the World No. 24. Although Khachanov rallied from 1-4 in the second set to force a tie-break, World No. 47 Molcan maintained his level to prevail and complete the second biggest win of his career.

Molcan started working with countryman Marian Vajda prior to last week’s Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. Vajda, the former long-term coach of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, will have been impressed by his new charge’s display in the 91-minute victory. Molcan is 12-7 for the 2022 season and reached a career-high No. 46 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on 25 April. The 24-year-old will hope Vajda’s influence can carry him to a maiden tour-level crown this week in France.

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Standing in Molcan’s way next is Federico Coria, after the Argentine enjoyed an upset of his own against second seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

The 7-5, 6-3 victory over No. 17-ranked Carreno Busta is the biggest of the 30-year-old Coria’s career. The Argentine reeled off five games in a row in the second set to recover from 1-3 and complete the win over the six-time Tour titlist. It is the first time the World No. 59 has reached the last eight in Lyon but it will be his fourth tour-level quarter-final on clay of the season. Coria reached the same stage in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro in February, and Marrakech in April.

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