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Preview: Holger Rune vs. Casper Ruud - prediction, head-to-head, tournament so far

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's French Open quarter-final match between Holger Rune and Casper Ruud, including predictions, head-to-head, route.

Holger Rune and Casper Ruud will go head-to-head in an all-Scandinavian battle at the French Open on Wednesday in a rematch of their meeting at last year's quarter-final stage.

Ruud is aiming to win his first Grand Slam after reaching two finals last year - including when beating Rune on the way to losing to Rafael Nadal in last year's final at Roland Garros - while Rune could reach the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Match preview

Holger Rune reacts at the French Open on June 5, 2023© Reuters

Considering that he only turned 20 years of age in April earlier this year, there is little doubt that Rune is one of the brightest young talents in tennis, with the Danish starlet showing incredible mental fortitude for a man of his tender years against Francisco Cerundolo in the fourth round on Monday.

Cerundolo twice fought back from behind to force a decisive fifth set against his opponent, with the Argentine breaking Rune while he was serving for the match. Clearly moving uncomfortably at times during the thrilling encounter, Rune drew strength from his defeat to Andrey Rublev in similar circumstances at the Australian Open earlier this year to ultimately prevail in the match tie-break.

"I had a heartbreaking loss in Australia, where I had this situation. I served for the match and lost and ended up in a Match Tie-break like this, so actually I told myself when we started the Match Tie-break just to relax and play tennis," Rune said after his win.

As a result, Rune has now reached the quarter-final stage at both of his appearances at the French Open, demonstrating his undoubted quality on a clay court. However, after losing to Ruud at this stage last year, he will be determined to gain revenge and make it to the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time in his burgeoning career.

One aspect of his game that will surely need to change if he is to do so is reducing his unforced errors, after making a whopping 73 across around four hours of action of action against Cerundolo. Another error-strewn performance against Ruud would almost certainly him punished on a more regular basis.

Casper Ruud reacts at the French Open on June 3, 2022© Reuters

Indeed, while Ruud may lack his forthcoming opponent's lethal frame and power, the 24-year-old is a wily customer and will be determined to put Rune in his place after their stormy encounter at this tournament last year.

Ruud overcame his Scandinavian rival in four sets, leading to an alleged confrontation in the locker room. However, the two-time Grand Slam finalist flatly denied those rumours, before going on to suggest that Rune needed to "grow up a bit."

The Norwegian, who is ranked No. 4 in the ATP World Rankings, should be the fresher of the two players after overcoming Nicolas Jarry in straight sets on Monday. However, that does not paint the full picture, with Jarry forcing a tie-break in the first set before being broken at the death in the ensuing two to lose 7-6 7-5 7-5.

Ruud had lost one set in each of his previous two matches, too, so he will almost certainly have to overcome moments of adversity against by far his most talented opponent at the French Open this year when he faces Rune once again on Wednesday.

He has been doing that for his entire career, though, having been written off time and time again. Moreover, the man who grew up idolising Nadal saved 14 of 17 break points against Jarry, while capitalising on eight of the 13 which he generated himself. Clearly, he possesses that crucial knack of pouncing on big moments, which all champions require at some stage during the course of matches on the grandest stages.

Tournament so far

Holger Rune reacts at the Italian Open on May 17, 2023© Reuters

Holger Rune:

First round: vs. Christopher Eubanks 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-2
Second round: vs. Gael Monfils walkover
Third round: vs. Genaro Olivieri 6-4 6-1 6-3
Round of 16: vs. Francisco Cerundolo 7-6 3-6 6-4 1-6 7-6

Casper Ruud:

First round: vs. Elias Ymer 6-4 6-3 6-2
Second round: vs. Giulio Zeppieri 6-3 6-2 4-6 7-5
Third round: vs. Zhang Zhizhen 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-4
Round of 16: vs. Nicolas Jarry 7-6 7-5 7-5

Head To Head

Casper Ruud in action in November 2022© Reuters

Monte Carlo Masters (2021): Ruud def. Rune 6-2 6-1
Bastad (2021) Ruud def. Rune 6-0 6-2
Monte Carlo Masters (2022): Ruud def. Rune 7-6 7-5
French Open (2022): Ruud def. Rune 6-1 4-6 7-6 6-3
Rome Masters (2023): Rune def. Ruud 6-7 6-4 6-2

Ruud clearly has the edge over Rune, having won four of their five meetings, including when overcoming the Dane in four sets in the quarter-finals of the French Open last year. Interestingly, all five of their meetings have been on clay.

However, Rune finally overcame his Scandinavian rival by coming from behind to defeat him on the way to reaching the final of Rome Masters earlier this year, suggesting that he may have turned a psychological corner against the 24-year-old.

SM words green background

We say: Ruud to win in five sets

Given the context of Ruud's victory at this exact stage last year, and the fall-out between the pair after the battle, this quarter-final match-up has all the makings of a potential classic. In truth, it is a very difficult outcome to predict.

Ruud is undoubtedly the more reliable performer, but Rune possesses more weapons in his armoury. We can envisage Wednesday's clash going all of the way into a decisive fifth set, with the 24-year-old's greater experience and mental fortitude perhaps giving him the edge in the end.

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Holger Rune reacts at the French Open on June 5, 2023
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