Paris, Jun 1 (EFE).- Casper Ruud raced out to an early lead and then won a crucial third-set tiebreaker en route to a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 French Open quarterfinal victory Wednesday night over rising Danish teenager Holger Rune.
With the win, the son of former 39th-ranked Christian Ruud has become the first Norwegian player to reach the semifinals of Roland Garros, tennis’ clay-court Grand Slam tournament.
The world No. 8 started quickly on Court Philippe-Chatrier, winning the first set 6-1 and then breaking Rune’s serve for a 3-2 lead in the second set.
In the opener, the 23-year-old Norwegian’s superior serve was the big difference as he won a whopping 88 percent of his first-serve points, compared to just 50 percent for the 19-year-old Dane.
Rune started settling in though and began using his firepower from the baseline midway through the second set to recover one service break. A few games later, he broke Ruud’s serve once again at love to even the match at a set apiece.
The second-set stats reflected the shot-making prowess of the world No. 40, who tallied 18 winners to Ruud’s 11.
In the third set, Rune had to save a break point in the opening game, but the players then reeled off a series of relatively easy service holds that left them level at 3-3.
Ruud seemed to take command by breaking serve in the seventh game, but his opponent got back on serve in the very next opportunity. A tiebreaker then ensued after Rune survived a tricky 11th game in which he faced a break point.
Both players made a series of unforced errors at the start of the tiebreaker, but Ruud suddenly lifted his level when it mattered most to win the last five points, including finishing off the final three points with winners.
For a player competing in just his third Grand Slam event, a two-set-to-one deficit was a huge mountain to climb against a top-10 player.
Although Rune stayed even through six games and escaped a 0-40 hole when serving at 3-4 in the fourth set, Ruud finally got the crucial break in that game thanks to an unforced error by his opponent.
Serving up 5-3, he then finished off the victory with a comfortable service hold.
Ruud, whose best previous result in a Grand Slam event was a round-of-16 showing in last year’s Australian Open, has now gone two rounds further in Paris and become the first player from his country to reach the semifinals of a major tournament.
His 13 aces played a big role in his victory. Rune, meanwhile, only recorded one ace for the match and will likely need to improve his first serve to achieve his full potential.
“It’s a big day for Norwegian tennis,” Ruud said afterward. “Of course, a lot of nerves all day to get going … I will use tomorrow to prepare (for Friday’s semifinals). These matches are the ones you are dreaming about playing.”
Next up for the world No. 8 will be another surprise semifinalist, Croatia’s Marin Cilic, a former US Open champion and Australian Open and Wimbledon finalist who has reached the last four of the French Open for the first time at age 33.
Friday’s other French Open men’s singles semifinal will pit 13-time champion Rafael Nadal against German world No. 3 Alexander Zverev. EFE