Ruud Denies Rune's Fightback To Return To Roland Garros SFs
For the second straight year in the Roland Garros quarter-finals, Casper Ruud edged fellow Scandinavian Holger Rune in four entertaining sets on Court Philippe-Chatrier. On Wednesday evening, the fourth-seeded Norwegian earned a 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory against the Dane to continue his bid for a second consecutive final at the clay-court major.
Ruud improved to 5-1 in the pair's ATP Head2Head, avenging a Rome semi-final defeat from last month. All six of their meetings have come on clay. By winning the matchup of two of the most successful clay-court players this season, Ruud picked up his 16th win on the surface in 2023 (16-5), drawing him level on wins with Rune (16-4).
“I’m very, very relieved. I came into this match just trying to play without pressure. But it’s not easy, obviously. You’re playing a big match and against Holger it’s never easy,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “He plays very aggressive. Luckily for me the first two sets he wasn’t probably feeling it too well, he was doing a lot of errors, so I sort of got a lot of points for free.
“So that helped the nerves, but he fought back. Third set he came out playing better and then in the fourth set I was just lucky to get that one break and then keep it all the way out.”
The victory moved Ruud above Rune to No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings; he could rise past Stefanos Tsitsipas and maintain his status as World No. 4 by reaching his third Grand Slam final, but cannot move any higher even with his first major title. The 24-year-old will meet Alexander Zverev in Friday's semis, after the German beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry in four sets earlier on Wednesday.
Ruud dominated the opening two sets of the quarter-final as his 20-year-old opponent seemed to show the effects of his five-set victory against Francisco Cerundolo in the fourth round. The Norwegian's dominance in the rallies left Rune struggling to find a response, with the Dane misfiring by big margins from the baseline and unsuccessfully taking risks to shorten points.
After saving a break point in the opening game of set three, Rune grabbed a lifeline with an early break, his comeback bid spurred on by the evening Chatrier crowd. Fueled by his forehand, Rune summoned his best tennis to power through the set without facing another break point, but his charge was cut short when Ruud broke for 3-1 in the fourth.
The Dane made his opponent earn his victory, bringing up 15/40 in the ensuing return game and later saving two match points on serve to make it 3-5. But the fourth seed had no problem serving out the match, clinching victory on his fifth match point to return to the semi-finals — a stage at which he is 3-0 at the majors.
Rune, who has had his two best major showings by reaching back-to-back quarters at Roland Garros, is the second Danish man to reach that stage in multiple majors (Kurt Nielsen). He was denied in his bid to become the first Danish men's singles semi-finalist at a major since Jan Leschly at the 1967 US Championships.