© Peter Staples

Fourth seed Casper Ruud is the highest seed left in the bottom half.

Ruud Seals Fourth Round Spot At Roland Garros

Fourth seed next meets red-hot Jarry

Is this the fortnight Casper Ruud wins his first major title?

The Norwegian continued to make smooth progress at Roland Garros on Saturday, recovering from a slow start to dispatch Chinese player Zhang Zhizhen 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

The fourth seed Ruud, who is the highest seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw, emphatically pounced on short balls throughout the two-hour, 38-minute third-round clash. He stepped forward effectively to dictate with his heavy forehand, using a mixture of spins in the lively conditions on Court Suzanne-Lenglen to earn his 14th clay-court win of the season.

"It was tough. It was a bit frustrating in the beginning. I didn't hit as well as I would have hoped," said Ruud, who improved as the match went on. "I didn't really find any hole in his game, but luckily at 5-4 in the second set, he played some sloppy shots and I got the break. That gave me confidence and I started playing better and better in the third and fourth [sets]. The French crowd was helping me a lot."

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

Ruud lost in the final against Rafael Nadal 12 months ago. Aiming to go one step further this year, he will next face Geneva champion Nicolas Jarry.

"Every match is stressful, physically and mentally," Ruud said. "This year is the first year I am coming trying to defend a big result, having made the final last year. I am feeling a little bit more about it and feeling a little bit extra pressure."

Ruud arrived in Paris having had a modest season to date. The 24-year-old failed to win consecutive tour-level matches at 10 of the 12 events he played, but did lift the trophy in Estoril, before he advanced to the semi-finals in Rome.

The 10-time tour-level titlist has looked close to his best in the French capital, though, where his victory against Zhang lifted him two spots to 13th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. Ruud, who holds a 15-4 record at Roland Garros, is chasing a third consecutive appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Zhang was the first Chinese man to reach the third round at Roland Garros in the Open Era (since 1968). The 26-year-old is up 17 spots to No. 54 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his run.

Jarry continued his red-hot form, moving past Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3 to reach the fourth round at a major the first time.

The Chilean is playing at a career-high No. 35 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in Paris after clinching his third tour-level title and second of the season in Geneva last week. Jarry has clinched 19 tour-level wins on clay this season, with only World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz (23) earning more.

More stories like this in: