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.”



UEFA Promises More Clarity for Fans and Players on Refereeing Decisions at Euro 2024

 France's Antoine Griezmann, right, and France's William Saliba head the balls during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)
France's Antoine Griezmann, right, and France's William Saliba head the balls during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)
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UEFA Promises More Clarity for Fans and Players on Refereeing Decisions at Euro 2024

 France's Antoine Griezmann, right, and France's William Saliba head the balls during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)
France's Antoine Griezmann, right, and France's William Saliba head the balls during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)

Clarity for players and spectators and zero tolerance for serious foul play and dissent — that’s what referees have been tasked with at the European Championship.

UEFA had already announced last month that it would do more to explain decisions to teams, requiring in turn that only captains can approach the referees to discuss them.

And that was emphasized on Wednesday at a media briefing on refereeing guidelines for Euro 2024 that took place at Munich’s Allianz Stadium, two days before host nation Germany kicks off the tournament in the same venue against Scotland.

"Only the captain will approach the referee, the other players they have to think about (playing). That’s it, finish," UEFA managing director for refereeing Roberto Rosetti said.

UEFA has promised that the referees will attempt to give the captains an explanation of key incidents during the match, including what was discussed with VAR.

Any teammate ignoring his captain’s role and approaching the referee showing any sign of disrespect or dissent will receive a yellow card.

Fans, meanwhile, will also get a better understanding of VAR decisions as they will be broadcast on the giant screens in stadiums.

"This is something new. I think it’s very, very, very interesting," Rosetti said. "So we want to give, after the opinion of VAR, a technical explanation for the public. In live, simultaneously, the UEFA expert will prepare the explanation, a technical explanation about what happened in the specific situation.

"For example, on-field review, the referee awards a penalty for handball...technical explanation: Germany number nine touch the ball with his left arm which was in an unnatural position above the shoulder and making his body bigger."

Rosetti has met with all the teams participating at Euro 2024 and their coaches to present the refereeing guidelines for the tournament, including hammering home that any dangerous tackles will be severely punished.

"One of the most important priority in refereeing guidelines is to protect the players," Rosetti said. "To protect the image of the game, but in particular to protect the safety of the main actors of the games.

"We showed them a couple of clips that we are asking to the referees to be very strong in these kind of situations," he added. "So for such situations we asked to the referees to be zero tolerant because this is something that we cannot accept."