Holger Rune takes a selfie photo with fans after defeating Casper Ruud during their semifinals match in Rome on Saturday. AFP
Holger Rune followed up his latest victory over Novak Djokovic with another impressive performance to reach the Italian Open final, rallying past Casper Ruud 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday. I
t's the third clay-court final this season for Rune, after the 20-year-old Dane won Munich and was beaten by Andrey Rublev at Monte Carlo. "He plays very fearless, takes the ball early, which is really impressive to do on clay,” Ruud said.
"It’s not very typical to sort of do too well on clay because you have some wrong bounces. ... A couple times I played heavy, he just went on the rise, hit the clean winner back.”
In the final, Rune will face Stefanos Tsitsipas or Daniil Medvedev, who were at 4-4 in the first set when their semifinal was suspended due to rain. Rome is the last big tournament before the French Open starts next weekend, and Rune and Ruud are shaping up as contenders.
Holger Rune celebrates winning his semi final match against Norway's Casper Ruud. Reuters
The seventh-ranked Rune was coming off a win over six-time Rome champion Djokovic in the quarterfinals - his second victory against him in little more than six months.
The fourth-ranked Ruud, who is from Norway, reached the final last year at Roland Garros, losing to Rafael Nadal, who announced on Thursday that he won’t be competing in Paris because of a hip injury that has sidelined him since January. Rune improved to 7-1 against players ranked in the top five. The match was filled with memorable points, starting when Ruud ran down a drop shot and replied with a delicate but sharply angled winner in the second game.
Rune was ready the next time Ruud attempted the same shot and ran down a seemingly impossible ball outside the doubles alley, sending Ruud back toward the baseline before eventually finishing off the point with a volley winner. Rune waved his hands to urge on roars from the crowd. After dropping his serve midway through the second set, Rune took a medical timeout to have his right shoulder treated. When play resumed, Rune took control, producing an 83 mph (134 kph) forehand return winner off a first serve as he broke to take the second set.
At the start of the third, Rune whipped another forehand cross-court after he was pulled off the court. Under constant pressure due to Rune's court coverage and foot speed, Ruud double-faulted to hand Rune a break early in the third and never recovered. The match was played in overcast conditions under intermittent rain.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina fought from 4-1 down in the second set to overhaul Jelena Ostapenko on Friday to reach the final of the Italian Open. The 6-2, 6-4 comeback from the Kazakh sent Rybakina into her fourth major final of the season after the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami. She will bid for the trophy against Anhelina Kalinina of the Ukraine.
"It's absolutely important to try and win every match, (considering) what Ukraine is going through," she said. "I hope I can give a small light and maybe some positive emotions to my country." "It was not easy at all with the starting and stopping," the winner said.
"I need to recover for the final." Everyone knows how good Anhelina is, we are also good friends - if you can say that (in tennis). "It will be a tough match for sure. I think of course I'm more consistent, there are still a lot of things to improve. But I'm happy that physically I can maintain and stay in the tournament till the end. Rybakina was pleased with her second-set turnaround. "I didn't start that well, I was a bit low in energy. Lost my serve. So it was difficult.
"Then a few good shots from her, good serves - it changed very quickly. "I just tried to focus on every point and got the break back and served really well after that."Agencies
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The 26-year-old Haddad Maia beat a top-ranked player for the first time to become the first Brazilian woman to advance to the quarterfinal of a WTA 1000 tournament.
Nadal, a 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, advanced without taking the court when Dutch opponent Tallon Griekspoor withdrew.
After winning the match, the Serbian star said, it was more than a battle. Brerettini is a true Italian hammer I felt it on my skin. It means none of us three will stop. Roger and Rafa are legends they are the reason I am where I am today, said Djokovic.
"After two seasons in the French capital, Leo Messi’s adventure with Paris St Germain will come to an end at the conclusion of the 2022-23 campaign," PSG said in a statement.
The event featured a diverse group of emerging talents and classified athletes from prestigious clubs and academies giving excellent performances eyed enticing prizes worth more than Dhs1 million.
The four Emirati players, Abdullah Ahli, Abdullah Abdulaziz Abdullah, Fares Aljanahi and Salem Alhouli, will join a distinct team in the unique global championship.
Top-seed GM Yu Yangyi of China scored an emphatic win in Friday night’s seventh round to grab a share of the lead with defending champion GM Aravindh Chithambaram of India, who continued to struggle pulling the trigger in another promising position. Yu and Chithambaram now have 5.5 points from seven games,