The shot was so audacious, it had the crowd on Court 14 shouting “Foki, Foki” after the Spaniard sunk to the clay on his knees when he finally got over the line on his fifth match point.
Davidovich Fokina said he had played the shot intuitively.
“I didn’t know that I will do the underarm serve,” he said. “I make the point. That’s important for me.”
It was the second match on the men’s tour between the two young talents, with the 22-year-old Ruud coming out on top in an equally dramatic five-set clash during the 2019 Next Gen Finals, when his opponent battled through a painful leg injury.
Ruud, the son of former Norwegian tennis pro Christian Ruud, had been one of the players to watch in Paris after winning a clay-court title in Geneva and reaching the semi-finals in Monte Carlo, Munich and Madrid.
“It’s difficult because you never really know what's going to come out of his racquet,” said Ruud, when asked what it was like to play Davidovich Fokina. “He can produce extremely good shots and extreme winners, passing shots, beautiful drop shots. But sometimes he can also do more mistakes.”