Rune Follows up Win over Djokovic by Beating Ruud to Reach Italian Open Final

Tennis - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2023 Denmark's Holger Rune celebrates winning his semi final match against Norway's Casper Ruud. (Reuters)
Tennis - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2023 Denmark's Holger Rune celebrates winning his semi final match against Norway's Casper Ruud. (Reuters)
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Rune Follows up Win over Djokovic by Beating Ruud to Reach Italian Open Final

Tennis - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2023 Denmark's Holger Rune celebrates winning his semi final match against Norway's Casper Ruud. (Reuters)
Tennis - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2023 Denmark's Holger Rune celebrates winning his semi final match against Norway's Casper Ruud. (Reuters)

Holger Rune followed up his latest victory over Novak Djokovic with another impressive performance, rallying for a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2 win over fellow Scandinavian Casper Ruud on Saturday to reach the Italian Open final.

It's the third clay-court final this season for Rune, after the 20-year-old Dane won a title in Munich, Germany, and was beaten by Andrey Rublev for the Monte Carlo Masters trophy.

“He plays very fearless, takes the ball early, which is really impressive to do on clay,” Ruud said. “It’s not very typical to sort of do too well on clay because you have some wrong bounces. ... A couple times I played heavy, he just went on the rise, hit the clean winner back.”

In the final, Rune will face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Daniil Medvedev, who were up next on Campo Centrale.

Later, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina was playing Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in the women’s final.

Rome is the last big tournament before the French Open starts next weekend and both Rune and Ruud are shaping up as contenders.

The seventh-ranked Rune was coming off a win over six-time Rome champion Djokovic in the quarterfinals — his second victory against the 22-time Grand Slam champion in little more than six months.

The fourth-ranked Ruud, who is from Norway, reached the final last year at Roland Garros, losing to Rafael Nadal — who announced on Thursday that he won’t be competing in Paris because of a lingering hip injury that has sidelined him since January.

The match was filled with memorable points, starting when Ruud ran down a drop shot and replied with a delicate but sharply angled winner in the second game.

Rune was ready the next time that Ruud attempted the same shot and ran down a seemingly impossible ball outside the doubles alley, sending Ruud back toward the baseline before eventually finishing the point off with a volley winner. Rune then waved his hands to urge on roars from the crowd.

After dropping his serve midway through the second set, Rune took a medical timeout to have his right shoulder treated. When play resumed, Rune took control, producing an 83 mph (134 kph) forehand return winner off a first serve as he broke to take the second set.

At the start of the third, Rune whipped another forehand cross-court after he was stretched off the court.

Under constant pressure due to Rune's court coverage and footspeed, Ruud double-faulted to hand Rune a break early in the third and never recovered.

The match was played in overcast conditions under intermittent rain.

“There were some great rallies. It was a fun match to play,” Ruud said. “Also, I think the crowd enjoyed it.”



Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic Will Meet in the Wimbledon Men’s Final Again

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2024. (AFP)
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2024. (AFP)
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Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic Will Meet in the Wimbledon Men’s Final Again

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2024. (AFP)
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2024. (AFP)

Carlos Alcaraz is only a couple of months past his 21th birthday, and yet this whole Grand Slam success thing is already a bit been-there, done-that for him.

Moving a step closer to a second consecutive Wimbledon trophy and fourth major championship overall, Alcaraz overcame a shaky start Friday to beat Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals at Centre Court.

"I feel like I’m not new anymore. I feel like I know how I’m going to feel before the final. I’ve been in this position before," Alcaraz said. "I will try to do the things that I did well last year and try to be better."

Like last year, his opponent in Sunday's title match will be Novak Djokovic, who advanced with a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory against No. 25 seed Lorenzo Musetti. Djokovic won 15 of 16 points when he went to the net in the first set and finished 43 for 56 in that category.

It'll be the first time the same two men meet in consecutive Wimbledon finals since Djokovic beat Roger Federer in 2014 and 2015.

"He’s as complete a player as they come," Djokovic said about Alcaraz, who won the 2023 final in five sets. "It's going to take the best of my abilities on the court overall to beat him."

Djokovic, who hadn't reached a final at any tournament all season and needed surgery in June for a torn meniscus in his right knee, will be vying for his eighth championship at the All England Club. That would tie Federer’s mark for the most by a man — and put him one behind Martina Navratilova’s record of nine — while making the 37-year-old from Serbia the first player in tennis history with a career total of 25 Grand Slam titles.

"I know what I have to do," Alcaraz said. "I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me."

Late in Djokovic’s semifinal, as he let his first three match points slip away, fans hoping for a longer match began chanting "Lo-ren-zo!" One yelled out during a point, bothering Djokovic, who soon was wiping away fake tears mockingly after Musetti failed to convert a break chance in the last game.

The No. 2-seeded Djokovic — who got a walkover in the quarterfinals when his opponent, Alex de Minaur, withdrew with a hip injury — eventually worked his way into his 10th final at Wimbledon and 37th at a major.

"I don't want to stop here," Djokovic said. "Hopefully I'll get my hands on that trophy."

Musetti said it didn't look as if Djokovic was hampered at all by his knee, which was covered by a gray sleeve.

"He showed that he’s really in great shape, not only in tennis, but physically," said Musetti, who was appearing in a major semifinal for the first time.

After a so-so opening set against Medvedev, Alcaraz transformed back into the energetic, attacking, crowd-pleasing force who already was the first teenager to be No. 1 in the ATP rankings and is the youngest man to have won a major trophy on three surfaces: grass, clay and hard courts.

Now the Spaniard is one victory away from joining Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg as the only men in the Open era, which began in 1968, with multiple championships at the All England Club before turning 22.

Alcaraz also triumphed at the US Open in 2022 and the French Open last month and is 3-0 in major finals.

"We’re going to see a lot of him in the future, no doubt," Djokovic said. "He’s going to win many more Grand Slams."

On a cloudy afternoon, the No. 3-seeded Alcaraz went through some ups and downs against No. 5 Medvedev, a 28-year-old from Russia.

"I started really, really nervous," Alcaraz said. "He was dominating the match."

Indeed, Medvedev grabbed an early 5-2 lead, but then got into trouble with his play and his temper.

Alcaraz broke to get within 5-4 with a drop shot that chair umpire Eva Asderaki ruled — correctly, according to TV replays — bounced twice before Medvedev got his racket on the ball. He voiced his displeasure, and Asderaki, after climbing down from her seat to huddle with tournament referee Denise Parnell during the ensuing changeover, issued a warning to Medvedev for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I said something in Russian. Not unpleasant, but not over the line," Medvedev said at his news conference.

He regrouped quickly and was just about perfect in that set’s tiebreaker.

Then it was Alcaraz’s turn to get headed in the right direction, which didn’t take long. He got the last break he would need for a 4-3 edge in the fourth when Medvedev sailed a backhand long, then sat in his sideline chair, locked eyes with his two coaches and started muttering and gesticulating.

"I was playing well," Medvedev said, "and just it was not enough."

Nearly every time Alcaraz emitted one of his "Uh-eh!" two-syllable grunts while unleashing a booming forehand, spectators audibly gasped, regardless of whether the point continued. Often enough, it didn’t: Alcaraz had 24 forehand winners, 20 more than Medvedev.

In addition to the Wimbledon men’s final, Sunday’s sports schedule features the final of the men’s soccer European Championship in Germany, where Spain will meet England.

When Alcaraz alluded to that in his on-court interview by saying, "It’s going to be a really good day for the Spanish people, as well," he drew boos from the locals — perhaps his biggest misstep all day.

Alcaraz smiled and added: "I didn’t say Spain is going to win. I just said that it’s going to be a really fun, fun day."