FOR the second successive year, Norwegian Casper Ruud ousted Holger Rune in the Roland Garros quarter finals, surviving a mid-match comeback from the young Dane to win in two hours and 44 minutes. It looked to be a one-sided affair early when Ruud only dropped three games in the first two sets, but had to work for it after that, to eventually post a 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory.
After getting the job done 12 months ago and reaching the Roland Garros final, Ruud is just one win away from matching that feat in 2023. Improving his win-loss record against Rune to 5-1, Ruud overcame his Rome semi-final defeat to the youngster just a month earlier. At the end of the battle, the fourth seed said he was pleased to get through to the final four.
“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 post-match. “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.”
Coming into the match, the pair were the two most successful clay courters this season, boasting a combined 31 wins between them. But it was Ruud who raced off to a dominant start, taking a 6-1 6-2 lead in just 64 minutes.
An early break in the third set gave Rune a slight look as he raced to a 3-0 lead. That proved enough as the Dane won the third set, hitting four winners in the ninth game to close out the set on serve. Ruud then broke early in the fourth to go 4-1 up himself and though Rune battled hard, it would not be enough with the more experienced player getting up.
Ruud served five aces to one, and won 72 and 59 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to Rune’s 64 and 48 per cent. Though his opponent hit far more winners (48-32), Ruud was more economical, conceding just 29 unforced errors – and 23 forced errors – to Rune’s 47 and 44 respectively.
The Norwegian is just one win away from another Roland Garros final, with German Alexander Zverev standing in his way.
AROUND THE COURTS
Zverev ended the run of Argentinian Tomas Etcheverry in a tight four-set match that lasted three hours and 22 minutes. The German – who missed a lot of 2022 injured, won 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 to advance through to the semi-finals. He hit 45 winners to 37 and had four less unforced errors (44-48), winning 76 per cent of his first serve points.
In the women’s singles, Brazilian 14th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia fought back from a set down to run away with the quarter final against Tunisian seventh seed Ons Jabeur. The Brazilian trailed at first but ground out a strong second set before dominating the third to win 3-6 7-6 6-1. Haddad Maia broke six times to four and was able to nullify Jabeur’s power the longer the match went on.
The Brazilian will now face world number one Iga Swiatek, who made light work of youngster Coco Gauff. The Pole took full advantage of a wayward Gauff – who only produced a 48 per cent first sere percentage – to win 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 28 minutes. Swiatek hit six more winners (19-13) and eight less unforced errors (15-23), while breaking four times to one during the match.