Rune: I see Casper in the final

 - Dan Imhoff

Danish sixth seed praises last year's runner-up after falling in quarter-final rematch

Holger Rune, Roland-Garros 2023, quarter-finals© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Holger Rune expects Casper Ruud to reach back-to-back Roland-Garros finals after falling in the quarter-final clash of the Scandinavians for the second straight year on Wednesday.

In a rematch of last year’s last-eight showdown when an upstart unseeded Dane stole a set from eventual finalist Ruud, it was a repeat result on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

While clearly disappointed, the 20-year-old was quick to tip his hat to the locked-in Norwegian.

“I'll probably say Casper is the favourite for the semi-final, but, again Zverev, if you asked me one year ago I would probably say that Zverev is the favourite,” Rune said. “It's tough to say. Zverev is coming back strong after his injury, but right now I think I see Casper in the final.”

A top-eight seed for the first time at a major, Rune came into this match with loftier ambitions and rightly so, having beaten the 24-year-old for the first time in Rome leading in.

His four-hour epic against Argentine Francisco Cerundolo in the fourth round only 48 hours earlier could have explained his sluggish start in which he struggled to harness his aggression for the opening two sets.

Holger Rune, Roland-Garros 2023, quarter-finals©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

The sixth seed though said it had no bearing on the outcome.

“Not at all. I was fine physically. No excuse,” Rune said. “I just didn't play my level. It's tough, but sometimes it's like this and you have to learn from it, come back stronger.

“We have another Grand Slam around the corner, so I hope to be stronger there. I'm happy that the clay season is over now. I'm ready to move on. Yeah, just focused on the grass now.”

When the 20-year-old finally found his range in the third set he made a fist of the contest as he started to put Ruud on the back foot.

Consistency in big moments ultimately proved his undoing and an opponent whose level never dipped too far.

There were obvious positives to draw from Rune’s second Roland-Garros campaign.

Two quarter-finals from as many appearances in Paris and his first five-set victory this year, over Cerundolo, gave him plenty of which to be proud.

“I think I was less sharp. I think Casper is a really, really solid player,” Rune said. “His lower level is really high. He never drops. I think maybe he does, but you don't really feel it.

“I have to play some of my best tennis every time I play him to beat him or have a chance to beat him. I managed to do that in Rome.

“It's tough... In the key moments he was more brave and going for his shots and making them. So, yeah, credit to him.”

Holger Rune, Roland-Garros 2023, quarter-final© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT