Rune Gets Huge Confidence Boost From Historic Win At Roland Garros

Holger Rune (photo: Jürgen Hasenkopf)

PARIS/WASHINGTON, May 30, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Young stars with big names, Hoger Rune and Stefanos Tsitsipas put on quite a show on the main stage of Court Phillipe-Chatrier Monday at the French Open in Paris. It lasted a minute past three hours on a sunny late-spring afternoon. By the time it ended, history had been made on the famed red clay at Stade Roland Garros, and it was Rune that was receiving thunderous applause from the crowd that filled the stadium.

Not only had the 19-year-old Rune upset the World No. 4 from Greece, he became the first Danish man to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era.

Rune, ranked 40th, earned just the second Top-5 victory over his nascent career with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Tsitsipas, who was a French Open finalist a year ago. The young Dane rose to the challenge by unleashing a variety of ball-striking talent mixed with plenty of surprises that made a believer of Tsitsipas, just 23 but with plenty of major experience. After losing to Novak Djokovic in five sets in last year’s final, Tsitsipas was eliminated this year in the fourth round. Although he left to an appreciative ovation, the loss had to sting just a bit.

“I have an unbelievable feeling right now,” Rune told Eurosport‘s Marion Bartoli during his on-court interview. “I was so nervous at the end but the crowd was amazing for me the whole match, the whole tournament. I am so grateful and so happy to be playing on this court. You guys are amazing.”

Looking back, Rune struck 54 winners that overcame 38 unforced errors and broke Tsitsipas five times in 11 tries. He outpointed the Greek star 129-123. Although Tsitsipas served eight aces and hit 41 winners, he also accumulated 33 unforced errors and was able to only break Rune three times in eight opportunities.

“These kinds are going to want to beat me badly because, obviously, they are chasing,” Tsitsipas said during his post-match press conference. “I’m chasing, too, but I’m at a different kind of position than they are. I’m hungry to beat them, too. Now that they have beat me, I want pay back.”

In Rune’s Paris debut, he’s strung together victories over Denis Shapovalov, Henri Laaksonen and Hugo Gaston, all in straight sets. Today, he took down Tsitsipas in four. Now, along with another 19-year-old bright star, Carlos Alcaraz, it marks the first time two teenagers have advanced to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since 1994. Twenty-eight years ago, it was Hendrik Dreekmann and Andrei Medvedev.

“I was very nervous but I know at the same time that if I go away from my tactics against a player like Tsitsipas, I am going to lose for sure,” Rune admitted. “I told myself just to keep at it and play my plan in the tough moments. It worked out so well in the end and gave me a huge confidence boost. It is just so great to still be here.”

Leading up to Paris, Rune won his first ATP Tour title in Munich and beat World No. 3 Alexander Zverev en route to garnering the Bavarian crown. Three years ago, Rune won the French Open junior boys’ title and was the No. 1-ranked junior in the world. A year ago, he was ranked outside the Top 300. Now, with his latest victory – his 16th tour-level of the season and 14th on clay – Rune is up to No. 31 in the ATP Tour live rankings.

During his on-court interview, Rune gave props to his mother, Aneke, who was sitting in his box, along with his sister Alma. “I get so emotional when I talk about family and coaches, but we are still in the quarterfinals, so we haven’t won the tournament yet. My mum, my whole crew up there is why I am here today. I am so grateful to have such a team helping me in tough situations,” he said.

Ruud: Reaches reaches first major quarterfinal

Next, Rune will face eighth seed Casper Ruud of Norway. The World No. 8 is through to his first Grand slam quarterfinal after making a strong comeback to beat No. 12 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, in two hours and 31 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

In a first-time meeting between two competitors, who were both making their fourth-round debuts at Roland Garros, Ruud remained calm under pressure. Not bad considering he’s the first Norwegian man to reach the French Open fourth round in tournament history, while Hurkacz was the first Polish man in the fourth round since Wojtek Fibak in 1982.

As it turned out, Ruud handled all of the tough situations best and converted six of 10 break-point opportunities. After a dip in his level during the third set, Ruud came on strong in the final set. He opened up an early break lead at 4-2 and closed out the victory over the World No. 13 Hurkacz on his second match-point opportunity.

Ruud, a seven-time champion on clay, hit 42 winners, made only 19 unforced errors and outpointed Hurkacz 113-95. Hurkacz hit eight aces and 46 winners but racked up 39 unforced errors.

“Hubert, I think, has improved a lot on clay from last year,” Ruud said during his on-court interview with Eurosport‘s Mats Wilander. “He has become a danger player on all surfaces, especially here on the clay, where if the sun is out, it’s quite fast. He has a dangerous serve.

“My goal today was to just get as many serves and returns back and I did very well the first two sets. I was able to make him play a lot of points and was able to run around my forehand and control many points. He raised his level a little bit in the third, and one poor service game by myself and then he had a break.

“It turns around quick in tennis. It was looking a bit dark in the fourth set as well, but luckily, I was able to break him back a couple of times.”

Hurkacz had been the only player into the fourth round who had not lost serve, holding serve in all 43 of his service games and saving four break points. Ruud broke Hurkacz six times in 10 opportunities.

Ruud admitted to Wilander that it’s been a goal of his to go deep in a major. He was asked how it felt to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time.

“It feels great,” he said. “It’s been one of my goals this year to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. I don’t know why but suddenly I came in this year feeling more experienced playing five sets and I’m a year older. It’s strange how time flies. I wasn’t able to play in Australia, so Roland Garros was a big goal for me, especially this year.”

Swiatek: Win No. 32 over Zheng was a great escape

World No. 1 and top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland extended her winning streak to 32, beating 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen of China, 6-7 (5), 6-0, 6-2, in two hours and 45 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier to move into the Roland Garros quarterfinals for the third straight year.

The 2020 French Open champion survived a scare when she dropped her first set since the semifinal round at Stuttgart on April 23. From the outset, Swiatek, who turns 21 on Tuesday, was pushed hard. Zheng rallied from 2-5 down in the set and 2-5 down in the tie-break to pull out the 82-minute opening set. She saved five set points along the way.

Then, Swiatek rallied to win eight straight games, winning the second set 6-0, and pulled away in the final set. The victory advanced Swiatek to face No. 11 seed Jessica Pegula of the United States.

Swiatek’s 32nd win tied her with Justine Henin for the third-longest WTA winning streak since 2000. She has now won her last eight quarterfinal-round matches. Her last quarterfinal loss came during the 2021 French Open against Maria Sakkari.

Pegula: Rallies to reach second major quarterfinal this year

No. 11 seed Jessica Pegula is one of three Americans remaining – along with Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens – in the women’s singles draw. She reached her second major quarterfinal of the season and third of her career after coming back from a set down to beat Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. The two-hour and eight-minute victory advanced Pegula to her first Paris quarterfinal. It was also her first win over Begu in three career meetings.

Although the World No. 11 Pegula didn’t drop a set in her first three wins at this year’s French Open, she fell behind the 63rd-ranked Begu early after being broken twice and lost the first set. However, Pegula rallied and broke Begu in the fourth game of both the second and third sets and gave a solid performance in the clutch when it mattered. Pegula overcame 34 unforced errors by hitting 19 winners and breaking Begu’s serve four times. She outpointed the Romania 88-83.

The victory has ensured Pegula will rise to the Top 10 after the tournament.

“For me, it’s always tough, especially on clay, because I get a little impatient,” Pegula said in her on-court interview with Eurosport‘s Alex Corretja. “Sometimes, I try to hit winners. Today, I fought with myself a lot. … Then, I started to play smarter and [became] more patient. … I’m happy I figured it out today.”

Pegula remains alive in the doubles draw, too, with Gauff. They are through to the round of 16 and will play Tuesday against No. 10 seeds Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic and Sania Mirza of India.

Kasatkina: Sets up an all-Russian quarterfinal with Kudermetova

Russia’s Daria Kasatkina reached her second French Open quarterfinal and first since 2018 by losing just four games against No. 28 seed Camila Giorgi of Italy. The 20th seed Kasatkina defeated Giorgi, 6-2, 6-2, in one hour and 20 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Kasatkina, a former World No. 10, has quietly but effectively moved into the last eight by conceding just 14 games through four matches and has been broken just twice. She saved all six break points she faced against Giorgi while breaking her opponent four times in eight tries.

In capturing her 22nd win in her 32nd match of the season, Kasatkina was efficient in hitting 16 winners to just 10 unforced errors and won six extended games. Although Giorgi countered with 29 winners, she also committed 37 unforced errors.

Kasatkina was asked by Eurosport‘s Fabrice Santoro during her on-court interview what her strategy was against Giorgi, one of the fiercest hitters on the WTA Tour. She replied without hesitation: “Zero mistakes! Camila is very aggressive. Her game is really very tough to play against. The conditions were good for me because they were slower. I had more time. I was happy I was able to manage the important points.”

Now, the 25-year-old Kasatkina is into the second week of a major for the first time since back-to-back quarterfinals in 2018 at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

“I like to play on clay,” Kasatkina said. “I played some good matches before Roland Garros. Here, I was a little bit nervous before the start of the tournament. Now, I feel very good. I’m in the quarters and very happy with the way I’m playing.”

Later, during her post-match press conference Kasatkina added:

“If we talk about me changing in the past six years, honestly, I don’t remember myself six years ago. But watching the matches from the past, I can see that I’m making a bit better decision in the important moments. Physically, I think I’ve become better, I’m improving. I’m working a lot. So, I think from my point view, this is the main changes.”

Next, Kasatkina will face fellow Russian Veronica Kudermetova, seeded 29th, who rallied for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 22 seed Madison Keys of the United States, in an hour and 41 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier to reach her first major quarterfinal. It will be their first meeting on clay and just the second overall.

At a set apiece, Kudermetova began to play more aggressively against Keys and never gave up against her more experienced opponent, who had made the quarterfinals or better in eight previous majors. She broke Keys four times in the final set – five times overall in eight tries. The Russian hit 20 winners to 21 unforced errors while Keys hit 26 winners but made 31 unforced errors. Kudermetova, who outpointed Keys 78-72, is into the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time.

“I tried to trust myself,” Kudermetova said. “I tried to fight. I think that was my key. … I tried to play smarter.”

Cilic: Reaches first major last eight in four years, dominates Medvedev

No. 20 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia played outstanding tennis Monday night. The 33-year-old took down World No. 2 and second seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, in one hour and 45 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Cilic is through to his third career Roland Garros quarterfinal and first since reaching the last eight in three of four majors in 2018. He dominated Medvedev on his serve, winning all but four of his first-serve points (31 of 35, 90 percent), hitting 33 winners, and facing no break points. Cilic also converted five of seven break-point chances and won 18 of 25 (72 percent) of his net-point opportunities. He outpointed Medvedev 85-60.

“It was an absolutely fantastic match from the first point to the last,” Cilic said in his on-court interview with Eurosport’s Alex Corretja. “I enjoyed the atmosphere, enjoyed the night session here. I played incredible tennis – one of the best matches of my career from start to finish.”

Cilic has dropped just one set in his first four Paris matches and has held his serve through 50 of 54 games, saving eight of 12 break points. He improved to 1-10 against the Top 10 at Roland Garros and 4-21 on clay.

Next, Cilic will face No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia, who reached his second French Open quarterfinal after his opponent, No. 11 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy, retired early in the third set of their fourth-round match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen after one hour and 23 minutes.

Sinner won the opening set 6-1 but Rublev recovered nicely and won the second set 6-4 and was ahead 2-0 in the third when Sinner retired from the match from an apparent left knee injury.

Around Roland-Garros

• Unseeded Kevin Krawietz of Germany and Nicole Melichar-Martinez of the United States advanced to the mixed doubles semifinals with a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 12-10 victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Bruno Soares, both of Brazil.

Also advancing to the mixed doubles semifinals were: No. 2 seeds Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Ena Shibahara of Japan, who defeated Matthew Ebden and Samantha Stosur, both of Australia, 6-3, 6-4; and Joran Vliegen of Belgium and Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway, who upset No. 4 seeds Neal Skupski of Great Britain and Desirae Krawczyk of the United States, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 10-8.

• In the women’s doubles draw, No. 2 seeds Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Elise Mertens of Belgium were upset by No. 13 seeds Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan, both of China, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

• The first men’s semifinal is set. No. 12 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Marcelo Areval0-Gonzalez of El Salvador advanced to play No. 16 seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands.

Monday’s French Open results

Tuesday’s French Open order of play

By the numbers

Before making history by being the first Danish man to reach a major quarterfinal, Holger Rune became the first Danish man to reach a Grand Slam fourth round since Kenneth Carlson at the 1993 Australian Open and the first at Roland Garros since Kurt Nielsen and Torben Ulrich, both in 1959.

“Quotable …”

“It’s just a match, two opponents and you have to do your best. It doesn’t matter who is on the other side.”

Daria Kasatkina of Russia, during her on-court interview, describing the feeling of reaching her first major quarterfinal in four years. She will meet fellow Russian Veronika Kudermetova.