Ruud outlasts Rune to reach first major semi-final

Norwegian has the last word in all-Scandinavian showdown

Casper Ruud, quarts de finale, Roland-Garros 2022©Cédric Lecocq / FFT
 - Stephanie Livaudais

After needing nearly six months to achieve his 2022 goal of reaching a first Grand Slam quarter-final, Casper Ruud’s next career milestone came fairly quickly by comparison.

The Norwegian was tested by Denmark’s Holger Rune over three hours and 18 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier, in the first all-Scandinavian quarter-final in Roland-Garros history.

But as another chapter in their region’s storied history was written in Paris, it was Ruud who had the last word.

The 23-year-old surged past Rune and weathered a mid-match wobble to win 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 and move into his first Grand Slam final four, where he will meet 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.

Story of the match

From the Norwegian and Danish competitors, to the Swedish chair umpire Louise Azemar Engzell, the stage was set for a celebration of the next generation of Scandinavian talent on Chatrier.

Ruud, however, came racing out of the gates and in no mood to be generous with his 19-year-old North Sea neighbor.

A 21-shot rally set the tone in the second game, with Ruud applying the pressure with his faster serve and heavier groundstrokes.

The Norwegian quickly opened up a daunting 5-0 lead with a double-break, after a sharp exchange at the net, firing a crisp volley and inside-out backhand passing shot. Ruud kept his opponent under pressure, returning serve from well behind the baseline and giving himself time to run around the backhand, teeing off for booming returns.

After being steamrolled in the 6-1 opening set, the Danish teen jolted to life heading into the second.

Ridding himself of any early jitters, Rune took a page out of his opponent’s book and took a huge step back behind the baseline; while Ruud’s first-serves regularly whizzed past him in the first set, Rune began to get more returns in play in the second to snap the Norwegian out of his rhythm.

Casper Ruud, Roland Garros 2022, quarter-final© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Rune made a gargantuan effort to not let Ruud run away with the score after the No.8 seed broke for a 3-2 lead. The 19-year-old pegged him right back from 0-40 down with solid defending, and he leaned on his laser-accurate down-the-line backhand to do damage as he took the second set.

With both players fully dialled in and the fans on Chatrier now intrigued, Ruud and Rune settled into the tightly-contested third set. But paradoxically – or perhaps due to overconfidence – Rune began to creep back toward the baseline during Ruud’s service games.

But with every step closer that Rune took, Ruud’s serve gained more effectiveness – until the Norwegian was back in control of the match. Ruud outlasted Rune in the tiebreak by shutting down points at the net and reeled off the last five points to claim the third set.

By the fourth set, Rune was struggling to make inroads on his opponent’s service games; he didn’t create any break chances, while Ruud broke serve during a crucial exchange late in the set for a 5-3 lead.

With one final buggy-whip forehand – and one disputed line call on match point – Ruud sealed his spot in the semi-finals.

Holger Rune, Roland Garros 2022, quarter-final© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Key stats

Big-serving Ruud held the match on his racquet during most of the match, although for a brief moment Rune found a way to disrupt his rhythm.

When Rune stepped back to give himself more time to return Ruud’s serve, the adjustment instantly produced rewards. Ruud fired four aces in each of the first, third and fourth sets, and just one in the second set. The No.8 seed didn’t face any break points in the opening set, but was under pressure with three in the second.

The Norwegian’s first-serve points won count took a major dip too: from 88% (15/17) in the first to 63% (12/19) in the second – by the fourth set, Ruud was back in control with an imperious 94% (15/16) of first-serve points won.

Another telling figure reveals how rock-solid Ruud was tonight: he fired almost as many winners as his opponent – 55 to Rune’s 54 – but he kept his own unforced errors count to a tidy 24, while Rune frequently undid his own efforts with 46. 

Casper Ruud, Roland Garros 2022, quarter-final© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

What the winner said

While it’s been a fortnight to remember for Scandinavian tennis – and for Ruud himself, after proving himself on the big stage in emphatic style – the No.8 seed didn’t pass up on an opportunity to shout out another Norwegian making their mark on the terre battue.

“A big day for Norwegian tennis, because we have also a female player Ulrikke Eikeri who made the finals of mixed doubles today. She’s even one step further than me!” Ruud grinned during his on-court interview.

“She will play for probably the biggest title of her life tomorrow, so I wish her luck.”

Ruud himself will take on No.20 seed Cilic next, after the resurgent Croat ousted No.7 seed Andrey Rublev in a five-set thriller earlier in the day.

“These are the matches that you dream about playing. And hopefully of course, even the final if it’s possible,” Ruud said. “I have to be really focused and bring my A-game in the semi-final. Marin has played great all week, and it’s going to be another tough match.”