Rune Upsets Djokovic Again, Ruud Back In Rome Masters SF; Medvedev, Tsitsipas Thurs.
Holger Rune did it again defeating Novak Djokovic in three sets 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to reach the Rome Masters semifinals.
“It’s really a big win for me,” said Rune on court. “Obviously I did it last year in Paris as well, but every match is a huge challenge for me when I play against Novak. He’s one of the greatest that’s ever played the game. I knew I had to be at my best and I said it yesterday, and I was today. I’m super proud of myself and I enjoyed every moment out there.”
Rune had stunned Djokovic in their only other meeting in the Paris Masters final and jumped out early on the 6-time champion today, winning the opener in just 38 minutes.
But Djokovic would rebound grabbing a break in the second, though couldn’t hold on to it. Rains returned as Rune was serving to stay in it at 4-5, 0-30.
After an hour off court, the players returned and Djokovic would push a decider. Rune would reset and get up 4-0 in the third and cruise to a second straight win over the Serb.
In the wet, slow conditions Djokovic struggled to find the range with 35 unforced errors to Rune’s 15. Djokovic was -8 on backhand winners to errors while Rune was +4.
“I stay humble of course. I have a lot to achieve,” the 20-year-old Rune said to the ATP. “I think you should always be humble. I think I am, I hope so and I hope people see me this way. I’m a huge fighter on the court and I leave everything when I play my matches. I’m super proud I was able to get the victory today. I had to fight hard and play my best tennis.
“I think I was a little less brave in the second set but after the rain delay, I managed to come out and be brave even though I lost the set. I just told myself, ‘Okay, it’s all right, I just have to keep going.'”
Djokovic credited Rune as the better player.
“Obviously in these kind of conditions, it’s very difficult to get the ball past him. He’s very, very fast, very quick. Great anticipation. Just a very talented, dynamic player, all-around player,” Djokovic said. “He was just better. He played too good for me for most parts of the match. I did have a bad start of the third set. I think that’s where match kind of shifted to his side. He kept his nerves and deserved to win.”
Djokovic will go into the French without a title since Melbourne. The Serb turns 36 on Monday.
“I know I can always play better. Definitely am looking forward to working on various aspects of my game, of my body, hopefully getting myself in 100% shape,” Djokovic said. “That’s the goal. I always like my chances in Grand Slams against anybody on any surface, best-of-five. Let’s see how it goes.”
Rune will take on Casper Ruud who returned to a third Rome Masters semifinal taking out the man who beat him last month in Barcelona, Francisco Cerundolo, 7-6(7-5), 6-4.
Ruud lost just nine points on first serve against the Argentine who led 2-0 in the second. Ruud is now 4-0 in Masters quarterfinals on clay.
“I’m just very happy to play good tennis and be in the semifinals,” Ruud said on court. “It’s going to be a very, very fun one, hopefully.”
Ruud leads Rune 4-0 in their series.
“He’s improved so much. I played him a couple times in 2021 and a couple of times in 2022, and his improvement is just really, really good,” Ruud said to the ATP.
“He has big goals for his career and is going through one goal by another so I’m just going to try to think about what I’ve done well against him before — I have a winning record against him. Tennis is always open, it’s never over until it’s over, and I’m just going to try to fight.”
Tomorrow, the final two quarters will be contested.
No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas gets No. 15 Borna Coric. Coric leads 3-2 but the Greek won earlier this year at the United Cup and by retirement in Rome a few years ago.
No. 3 Daniil Medvedev will challenge German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in a first-time tour-level battle. Medvedev will seek his second Masters semifinal on clay after 2019 Monte Carlo.
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