PARIS : Norwegian eight seed Casper Ruud will be feeling far less pressure in his French Open semi-final against Grand Slam winner Marin Cilic on Friday after his quarter-final victory over Danish teenager Holger Rune on Wednesday.
Ruud became the first tennis player of his country to reach the last four of any Grand Slam when he beat Rune 6-1 4-6 7-6(2) 6-3 and end the sensational run for the 19-year-old who was playing his first French Open.
Rune had eliminated fourth seed and last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in the previous round and is tipped, along with fellow teen Carlos Alcaraz, as the future stars of the sport, but it was Ruud who had been the favourite.
The 33-year-old Cilic, a U.S Open winner back in 2014, has more experience than the 23-year-old Norwegian on the big stage, having also reached the finals at Wimbledon in 2017 and the Australian Open in 2018.
Cilic’s run to the last four, however, has been surprising, even for his next opponent following the Croatian’s victory earlier on Wednesday over Russian seventh seed Andrey Rublev 5-7 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-6 (10-2) in a final super tiebreak.
“That’s going to be a tough match,” Ruud said. “He seems like he is playing some of this best tennis of his life at the moment here at Roland Garros,” Ruud said.
“He has reached the semi-final and has been playing so well on the way to the semi-final.”
Rudd said while the stakes were higher with a maiden last four spot at a Grand Slam for him, the pressure would be lower than against up-and-coming Rune.
“(It will be) less than today. Today I played a younger player from Scandinavia and you feel you had the pressure to win,” Ruud, who had beaten Rune on three previous occasions in straight sets, said.
“In two days I am playing Cilic. He has won a Grand Slam and several finals so he has more experience than me. So I have everything to win and nothing to lose.”
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