Preview: Ruud, Rune In First All-Scandinavian Grand Slam QF | ATP Tour

Wednesday’s Roland Garros quarter-finals will produce at least one first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, with Marin Cilic the lone competitor who has experienced that stage of a major. Cilic takes on Andrey Rublev, who is playing in his fifth Grand Slam quarter-final, while Casper Ruud faces #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune in a battle of first-time quarter-finalists.

All four men are former World No. 1 juniors, but none has reached the semis at Roland Garros. At the junior level, Cilic (2004), Rublev (2014) and Rune (2019) all won the Roland Garros boys’ title at age 16.

In the past two-and-a-half years, Rublev and Ruud have been among the most successful players on the ATP Tour. Rublev leads the Tour with 122 match wins since 2020, and is second, behind Novak Djokovic, in titles won and finals reached.

Most Wins (2020-22)  Most Finals (2020-22) Most Titles (2020-22)
Rublev – 122 Djokovic – 14 Djokovic – 10
Tsitsipas – 118 Rublev – 12 Rublev – 9
Zverev – 116 Zverev – 12 Ruud – 8
Djokovic – 112 Tsitsipas – 11 Zverev – 8
Medvedev – 107 Medvedev – 10 Nadal – 7
Ruud – 107 Ruud – 10 Medvedev – 6

There will be no doubles action on Day 11 after the semi-final bracket was completed on Tuesday. The four remaining teams will enjoy a day off before play resumes Thursday.

View Singles Draw | View Doubles Draw | View Schedule

[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) vs. Holger Rune (DEN)

The final Court Philippe Chatrier evening session features a historic matchup — the first all-Scandinavian quarter-final in major history. Ruud, 23, has made his first breakthrough to that stage in his 14th Grand Slam main-draw appearance, while the 19-year-old Rune is playing in just his third major.

The young Dane was 0-2 at the Grand Slam level entering Paris, but has beaten 14th seed Denis Shapovalov (first round) and fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas (fourth round) to reach the quarters with a full head of steam.

“I have strong belief in myself that if I really focus and play my tennis, I can beat almost everybody,” he said after getting past Tsitsipas. Rune also beat World No. 3 Alexander Zverev, who will face Rafael Nadal in Friday’s semi-finals, in April on the way to his first ATP Tour title in Munich.

“But also, I really have to be in the moment, because if not, everybody can also beat me,” he added.

One man he has not beaten is Ruud, who holds a 3-0 edge in their ATP Head2Head history. They have met three times, all on clay, with the Norwegian taking straight-sets victories each of the past two years at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters as well as last July in Bastad. But their most recent matchup, in the Monte Carlo in April, was their closest yet: a 7-6(5), 7-5 decision for Ruud.

“It was a great match. It was very close. I had a lot of chances, and didn’t really take them,” Rune said, looking back.

“I know Casper Ruud very well, and he’s been doing mainly all his best showings in Masters 1000s and the [ATP] 250s, which he’s won a lot of,” he later added. “Of course [he is] more experienced than me, but not a lot more experienced in a Slam… It’s both our first quarter-final. Of course we both feel the nerves.”

While Ruud is yet to assert himself as a second-week fixture at the Grand Slams, he leads the ATP Tour with 64 clay-court wins since the start of 2020. He has won all eight of his tour-level titles in that timespan, including seven on clay.

Ruud earned his most recent win in a 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 decision over 12th seed Hubert Hurkacz.

“To win this match and to make my first quarter-final here in Roland Garros means a lot,” he said after getting past Hurkacz. “It’s the first Grand Slam that I visited as a kid. It’s nice to get one of my best results of my career so far here.”

In the third round, he battled back from two-sets-to-one down to edge 32nd seed Lorenzo Sonego. He also beat home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening round, sending the Frenchman into retirement.

While Rune recognises his achievement in progressing to the quarter-finals, he remains locked in on the task at hand.

“It is going to change, of course, a little bit the way I look on the Grand Slams in the future when you know you have reached a quarter-final one time,” he said. “It has been a big goal for me this year, and to reach it is a good feeling.

“The tournament is not over and I want to try to win my next match, and I’m already focussed on it. I need to do all the right things to be prepared. I think it will be an exciting match in the quarter-final.”

As the World No. 8, Ruud is the clear favourite in the matchup, at least according to the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, in which his opponent has moved 12 places to No. 28 this fortnight. Victory Wednesday will elevate the Dane — the lone unseeded Roland Garros quarter-finalist — to the cusp of the Top 20.

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[7] Andrey Rublev vs. [20] Marin Cilic (CRO)

The 33-year-old Cilic may be the elder statesman in the bottom half of the draw, but if you ask him, his tennis journey is just beginning. After he knocked Gilles Simon out of his final Roland Garros in the third round — the Frenchman plans to retire at the end of the season — Cilic was asked what stage he feels he is at in his career.

“At the start,” he said with a laugh. “Honestly, feeling good. I was even talking with my doctor end of last year… and he said, your body’s like 25.

“Don’t tell my wife I’m saying this… I might be playing another 10 years.”

The Croatian has been in vintage form this fortnight, dropping just one set and an average of two games per set won. He played what he called “one of the best matches of my career from start to finish” to upset World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round. His 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win was every bit as dominant as the scoreline suggested, and his performance makes him a legitimate contender to win his second Grand Slam title this week.

Even before that eye-catching performance, Cilic was not lacking in belief. He previously said the he “absolutely” believed he was still capable of winning more big titles. A 20-time tour-level champion, his biggest crowns have come at the 2014 US Open and in 2016 at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati.

“I’m feeling good on the court, everything’s working well,” he added. “I’m quite dedicated with my training, with my routines. I take that quite seriously. Rarely go in tournaments that I’m not 100 percent ready. So those are things that keep me in shape.

“How long? We’ll see. But definitely three, four years, if I can be competitive like this.”

Cilic, who said things have “clicked” for him this fortnight, posted a 4-4 record on the European clay swing prior to Roland Garros. He has only notched three wins at the same tournament once before this season — at the Australian Open, where he reached the fourth round before a four-set defeat to Felix Auger-Aliassime.

His opponent in the Aussie Open third round was none other than Rublev. The Croatian claimed a 7-5, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 victory, but still trails their ATP Head2Head series 2-4. Their lone meeting on clay came in 2015 in their very first match, when Cilic scored a three-set win in Geneva. Rublev won both of their 2021 meetings, at the hard-court ATP Masters 1000 events in Miami and Cinicinnati.

The seventh-seeded Rublev lived up to his seeding to be among the last eight in Paris, but he has not been as clinical as his Croatian opponent. Rublev has dropped one set in each of his four Roland Garros matches and won a thrilling 13-11 fourth-set tie-break to avoid a fifth set against Cristian Garin in the third round. He then dropped a 6-1 opening set to Jannik Sinner in the fourth round before the Italian began to struggle with a knee problem which forced him to retire in the third set.

But widening the scope, the 24-year-old Rublev entered Paris in fine form. A three-time tour-level champion this season, he won his third career clay title in late April by beating Djokovic in the final of the Serbia Open on the World No. 1’s home city of Belgrade. He also reached the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open, where he lost to Tsitsipas.

Neither Rublev nor Cilic has advanced to the Roland Garros semi-finals before, though both have made the quarter-finals — Rublev in 2020 and Cilic in both 2017 and 2018. While Rublev is seeking his first Grand Slam semi-final, the Croatian has reached that stage five previous times. It’s Cilic’s 14th major quarter-final and Rublev’s fifth.

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