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Preview: Giulio Zeppieri vs. Casper Ruud - prediction, head to head

Sports Mole previews Thursday's French Open second round match between Giulio Zeppieri and Casper Ruud, including predictions and head-to-head.

Last year's French Open runner-up Casper Ruud will expect to cruise into the third round when he takes on Giulio Zeppieri on Thursday.

Ruud's opponent is ranked 129th in the world, although the Italian will almost certainly rise up the ATP leaderboard after winning at a Grand Slam for the first time on Tuesday.

Match preview

Indeed, Zeppieri overcame former French Open doubles runner-up Alexander Bublik in a five-set epic on Tuesday, with the Italian coming from 2-1 down in sets to advance to the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

After qualifying for the French Open for the first time last year, the 21-year-old was soundly beaten by 12th seed Hubert Hurkacz in the opening round, and there is little doubt that he will be a huge underdog to progress against another top player in the form of Ruud.

However, Zeppieri is clearly a huge talent - particularly on a clay court - and should not be underestimated, with Daniil Medvedev's first round defeat at the hands of rookie Thiago Seyboth Wild proving that upsets can certainly occur at Grand Slams despite the longer format.

Having held off the big-serving Bublik, Zeppieri will almost certainly be able to impose himself more against the less powerful Ruud, even if his lack of experience may prove troublesome at times against a shrewd operator.

Casper Ruud in action in November 2022© Reuters

Ruud, of course, still has plenty of years ahead of him given that he will not turn 25 until December, but he will be expected to challenge for the French Open once again after enjoying a breakthrough season last time out.

The Norwegian proved his run to last year's final at Roland Garros - where he was comfortably defeated by the 14-time champion Rafael Nadal - was no fluke by reaching the final at the US Open three months later, but he fell short against another Spaniard in the form of Carlos Alcaraz.

With no Nadal at this year's tournament due to an ongoing hip injury, Alcaraz and Ruud are two of the most likely candidates to prevent Novak Djokovic from overtaking Nadal as the most successful Grand Slam player in the history of the sport, but the 24-year-old will be focusing on one match at a time for now.

Having prevented World No. 53 Mikael Ymer from even hitting double figures in terms of games won across a straight-sets victory on Tuesday, though, Ruud will be disappointed if he has to break sweat too frequently in the second round.

Tournament so far

Giulio Zeppieri

First round: vs. Alexander Bublik 6-0 4-6 4-6 6-3 7-5

Casper Ruud:

First round: vs. Mikael Ymer 6-4 6-3 6-2

Head To Head

Giulio Zeppieri and Casper Ruud have never faced each other before, making Thursday's second-round event the first time that they have met each other in their respective careers.

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We say: Ruud to win in three sets

Although Zeppieri clearly possesses plenty of talent, the 21-year-old is likely to be slightly fatigued after his five-set victory against the powerful Bublik on Tuesday, which should be in stark contrast to a fresh Ruud after his comfortable win against Ymer.

As such, although Zeppieri will almost certainly win more games than the Swede managed, we expect Ruud to progress in straight sets once again.

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Rafael Nadal in action at the Australian Open in February 2021
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