PARIS — Eighth seed Casper Ruud battled past teenager Holger Rune 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the French Open semifinals and become the first Norwegian to reach this stage in any Grand Slam.
He will play Croatian 20th seed Marin Cilic in the semifinal.
“Of course, a lot of nerves all day to get going. It’s tough to find calm and peace,” Ruud said. “I started great, but Holger fought back and raised his level.”
The 23-year-old quickly raced to a 5-0 lead, twice breaking the teenager in the process and blitzing him with sensational cross-court forehand winners, clinching the first set after 34 minutes.
In his first French Open appearance, Rune, who had dumped out fourth seed and last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in the previous round, was left shaking his head at his opponent’s faultless performance, looking towards his box for advice as his unforced errors started to accumulate.
Rune, who had lost all three previous encounters to Ruud in straight sets, quickly changed tactics, playing three consecutive drop shots while also charging to the net to move 1-0 up.
The world number eight continued to keep him pinned to the back and got another break to move into the driving seat with a 3-2 lead.
The Dane, however, was in no mood to give up just yet, battling back from 0-40 on Ruud’s serve to break when he chased down a drop shot and whipped a forehand past his opponent to level.
Some cracks started to appear in the Norwegian’s game and Rune pounced, winning the second set on his first opportunity on Ruud’s serve.
Neither refused to budge in the third until both were broken once but Ruud powered through the tie-break to go 2-1 up.
Rune saved two break points on his serve to level at 1-1 at the start of the fourth but Ruud kept up the pressure.
He got the break he wanted when Rune sent a crosscourt forehand wide, to go 5-3 up and served for the match before winning it with a disputed line call. — Reuters