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regular-article-logo Monday, 04 March 2024

French Open: Holger Rune fights to set up date with Casper Ruud, Iga gets a pass

Reuters Paris Published 06.06.23, 07:14 AM
Casper Ruud.

Casper Ruud. File photo

Danish sixth seed Holger Rune got a helping hand from the umpire with a missed but glaring double bounce to battle past Argentine Francisco Cerundolo 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (9-7) on Monday and reach the French Open last eight for the second year in a row.

He will next face Norway’s fourth seed Casper Ruud in a repeat of last year’s quarter-final.

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Defending champion Iga Swiatek reached the quarter-finals when her Ukrainian opponent Lesia Tsurenko retired unwell. Swiatek was 4-1 up in the opening set when Tsurenko called the physiotherapist and had her blood pressure checked.

After a five-minute break, the match resumed but Tsurenko threw in the towel after losing the following game. Swiatek next faces American sixth seed Coco Gauff.

Rune got off to a strong start, powering to a quick 4-1 lead with Cerundolo struggling with his opponent’s serve that was on average more than 20kph faster than his own at that stage. The 20-year-old comfortably held serve to go 5-2 up but started getting sloppy before snatching the first set in a tie-break.

But the mercurial Dane had by then lost the edge on his serve with Cerundolo breaking him to love to go 4-1 up in the second set with a superb heavy topspin lob. He bagged it but soon the momentum would shift again.

Rune was 2-1 up in the third at 40-all when he clearly failed to get to the ball in time and the second bounce was visible to all but chair umpire Kader Nouni.

With his opponent not admitting to the double bounce, Cerundolo, seething and threatening the umpire “with a fine”, was broken on the next point, as Rune eventually went 4-1 up. Cerundolo was still fuming, mumbling to himself, when he launched a comeback to level but conceded the third set when Rune whipped a forehand down the line.

The 24-year-old, however, refused to buckle, snatching a 4-0 lead in the fourth, with Rune’s unforced errors at that stage climbing to 52 and the Dane essentially giving up on the set. The battle started anew in the fifth with both holding serve until 4-4 and then each being broken once to go to a deciding tie-break where Rune prevailed.

Ruud continued his bid to reach back-to-back finals at the French Open by fending off Chile’s Nicolas Jarry in a 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 7-5 fourth-round win.

Ruud, who has only dropped two sets in four matches so far, faced a tricky test against lanky clay-court specialist Jarry but pulled through in three hours and 20 minutes as his opponent failed to make his chances count in the last two sets.

Eyeing maiden slam

Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur stayed on course for a maiden grand slam crown, entering the quarter-finals here for the first time with a 6-3, 6-1 win over American Bernarda Pera and hoped that the romantic atmosphere of Paris will help her quest for a maiden grand slam title.

“Paris is always romantic, day or night. Winning here will definitely be an amazing memory for me,” said Jabeur, who became the first African player to reach the quarters at each of the four majors in the Open Era.

The 28-year-old is not getting complacent ahead of her clash with 14th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, who beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-5 to become the first Brazilian woman since Maria Bueno in 1968 to make the quarter-finals of a major.

“For now, I just want to take it one match at a time,” added Jabeur. “I will have a very difficult quarter-final. I was just taking it one match at a time, trying to make it to the second week. Now I’m going to push more for the next few matches.”

Last year’s French Open runner-up Gauff overcame an early wobble to outclass Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-5, 6-2.

Bitter moment

Russian Daria Kasatkina said she left the tournament with a sense of bitterness after being booed off by the crowd following her fourth-round defeat by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina on Sunday.

“Leaving Paris with a very bitter feeling. All these days, after every match I’ve played in Paris I always appreciated and thanked the crowd for their support and being there for the players,” Kasatkina wrote on Twitter.

Tsitsipas’ obstacle

Stefanos Tsitsipas was effusive in his praise of world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday, as the Greek fifth seed described the smiling assassin as one of the biggest obstacles in tennis ahead of their last-eight clash.

Former Roland Garros runner-up Tsitsipas outclassed Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 to set up a quarter final showdown with top seed Alcaraz, where he will hope to seal a first win over the Spaniard in their fifth meeting.

“Carlos has that smile that he said obviously helps him a lot. Right now he’s one of the biggest obstacles and challenges for any player to compete against. It pushes us all to be better.”

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