Casper Ruud Overcomes Rune To Reach His First Major Semi-Final At French Open - UBITENNIS
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Casper Ruud Overcomes Rune To Reach His First Major Semi-Final At French Open

Though often overwhelmed, the Norwegian withstands Rune’s sparkling brilliancy and prevailled 6-1 4-6 7-6(2) 6-3



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By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Can we not say that the last night session of Roland Garros 2022 staging the 19-year old Dane Holger Rune up against the 23-year old Norwegian Casper Ruud evoked the perfect script for a last episode of a Netflix series: a duel for the throne between two Vikings, the younger and the older, the bolder and the wiser, the extrovert and the quiet guy; both brandishing metal-alloy swords forged in dungeons, watched over in the boxes by their ambitious mentors, a mother and a father, in a nightly arena lit by dragons spitting fire.


As it often happens, it was the most experienced who ended up prevailing over the budding champion, at least in this early confrontation on the grand stage of a Major. The consistency of Ruud’s forehand, and his determination to run miles so as to fire it from any position yielded that extra margin, which may have appeared slighter on court than on the score, 6-1 4-6 7-6(2) 6-3. Rune displayed a wonderous backhand down the line, already one of the crackers on the tour, and proved to be endowed with a rare unpredictability. He has the capability of overturning a point at any moment, even when stretched to the utmost, thanks to his talent for generating speed when striking a ball just after rebound, like a table tennis shot.      

The first set flew away, Rune was betrayed by nerves and emotions. He lost his first two service games and wasn’t hitting through his shots. Rune pocketed it 6-1 in 33 minutes.

“I started great but then Holger fought back and raised his level. It became a really tough match. He’s become much more dangerous, much more unpredictable. He plays fearless, he goes for big shots and makes a lot of them. He makes It challenging for you.” Said Ruud. 

In the second set Rune was close to falling behind again when he faced two break points in the third game. He saved the first with an excellent serve and the second one with a low drop volley. He kept that service but lost the following one. When Ruud was up 40-0 with three chances for a 4-2 lead the match seemed to be taking an irrevocable twist. But suddenly Rune was striking with power and Ruud was cornered, his shots no longer hurting and landing just after the  service line. The Dane broke back and began to deploy more and more his fearless and often unpredictable game, striking Ruud’s balls while still rising and taking the driver’s seat in the rally. At 5-4 one of his gorgeous backhands down the line earned him three break and set points. He grabbed the first and equalized the set count.

The third set was the closest. It went with serve for the first six games. Both players chose to position far behind the baseline to return, which often resulted in hitting too short and allowing the server to come in and reap points with his forehand.

The first break point was for Ruud, who changed pace and lift to entice an unforced error and then took the break for a 4-3 lead, moving out wide on return and hitting an inside-in spinning forehand, deep and unretrievable.

But Rune didn’t give up and responded immediately by setting up breakpoints in the next game after playing crosscourt forehands which caught Ruud off balance. Ruud netted a backhand down the line and the Dane bounced back into the set.

Rune was well anticipating with his backhand down the line every time Ruud’s shots landed too short. But in the eleventh game he committed three unforced errors and had to save a break point with a serve and volley to hold on. 

The set fairly strode on to a deciding tiebreak. Rune missed a fatal dropshot and conceded a minibreak at 3-2. Ruud won a straining rally to lead 5-2 and with a backhand down and on the line he secured 4 set points. And grabbed the set with his favourite inside-out forehand.

In the fourth set it was Rune who ran the greater risks. In the fourth game he faced two break points, but scored four winners in a row and dug himself out of a first dangerous hole.

Though still constantly seeking creative aggression Rune’s game was oozing errors. Ruud had three further break points at 4-3. Rune didn’t flinch and hit 4 winners off his forehand. But a missed dropshot volley let Ruud back in and the Norwegian, less spectacular but consistent, engraved the break into his scoreboard.

At 5-3, serving for the match he was impeccable, resisting pressure and cunningly waiting for his chance to take over rallies. He deserved three match points and on the second he carried on pounding inside-out forehands till he closed with an inside-in on the line to reach his first semi-final at Roland Garros and in a Major. He will take on Marin Cilic.

“These are the matches you dream about playing,” he said. “Marin has been great all week and it’s going to be another tough match.”


Gael Monfils Targets Spot At Home Olympics Before Retirement 



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Gael Monfils may be starting his 2023 season later than usual but he isn’t contemplating stepping away from the sport anytime soon. 


The former top 10 star has been absent from the Tour since August due to a foot problem during what has been an injury-stricken year for the Frenchman. Monfils also missed the French Open and Wimbledon due to a heel injury which required surgery. Overall, he has won 14 out of 21 matches played on the Tour in 2022. 

Providing an update on his current fitness during an interview with Canal+, Monfils confirmed that he will not be playing at the Australian Open in January which will be the fourth major tournament in a row he has missed. Whilst his recovery is progressing well, he is targeting a return during the clay season which concludes at the French Open. He is also unable to access his protected ranking at Melbourne Park because the rulebook states that a player must be absent for at least six months to be eligible. 

“I know that there is a protected ranking, when you don’t play for a certain amount of months. I know that if I take it, I have to not play the Australian Open to reach the six months needed and that will be my decision,” Tennis Head quotes Monfils as saying.

However, the 36-year-old isn’t planning to stop playing just yet with aspirations to play at his home Olympic Games, which will be held in Paris in 2024. Monfils is already a three-time Olympian and has reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice before. 

Despite some speculation over his retirement, Monfils hopes to continue playing until the age of 40. Although he admits this depends on his family after he and his wife Elina Svitolina welcomed their first child earlier this year.

“2023 is an important year for me, a year of transition, transition between my injuries and the fact to be competitive to try to qualify for Paris 2024. I would not like to miss the Olympics, it would be my last one,” he added.
“I hope that 2024 would not be my last year but maybe the one after that. Before, I said that I wanted to play until I’m 40 but the more time I spend with my daughter, the more time I’m thinking maybe I’ll play a bit less.”

Monfils has won 11 Tour titles so far in his career, including this year’s Adelaide International. He has reached at least one final every year since 2005. 

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.


We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

13Carreno BustaSpain2495

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?


Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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ATP Finals Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Casper Ruud in the Championship Match



Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (

The biggest ATP non-Major final of 2022 takes place on Sunday in Turin, Italy.


2022 has been a bizarre year in the career of Novak Djokovic.  It started with his deportation from Australia, forcing the unvaccinated Djokovic to miss the first Major of the year.  That would be one of six prominent events that Novak would miss this season due to COVID-19 entry rules (Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open).  Yet Djokovic was still able to accumulate a record of 41-7, and win his 21st Slam at Wimbledon.  He is now 17-1 at indoor ATP events this fall, and will end the year as the World No.5  With a win on Sunday, he would tie Roger Federer for most all-time ATP Finals titles.

2022 has been a groundbreaking year in the career of Casper Ruud.  He had already established himself as a top 10 player, but prior to this season, was predominantly thought of as a clay court specialist, with five of his six ATP titles coming on that surface.  Yet that all changed this season, starting in Miami when he reached his first Masters 1000 finals.  Casper would go on to also reach his first two Major finals, in Paris in New York.  He is now 51-21, and into his fourth big final of the year.

Sunday’s action in Turin starts at 4:00pm local time with the doubles championship match, featuring Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2).  Both teams are an undefeated 4-0 this past week.  This is Ram and Salisbury’s second consecutive year in the final, having lost a year ago to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.  Mektic won this title two years ago alongside Wesley Koolhof, while this is Pavic’s first appearance in the final of this event.  These teams have not met since the semifinals of this tournament last year, when Ram and Salisbury prevailed.

Casper Ruud (3) Novak Djokovic (7) – Not Before 7:00pm

Ruud is 3-1 this past week, with his only loss coming in a dead rubber against Rafael Nadal.  Prior to his three top 10 victories across the last seven days, Casper only had two all season (Zverev, Auger-Aliassime).  And he is yet to win a title above 250-level in his career, with the aforementioned three losses this year in big finals.  Ruud was a semifinalist here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic is an undefeated 4-0 this week, which includes an arduous effort to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Friday in a dead rubber.  Novak is now 10-3 against top 10 opposition in 2022, having taken nine of his last 10 against the top 10.  He is 4-2 in finals this year, though he lost his most recent one, two weeks in Bercy, to Holger Rune.  Djokovic is an eight-time finalist here, though he hasn’t won this title since 2015.

Djokovic has played a lot more tennis across the last two days than Ruud.  On Friday, Novak spent over three hours on court, while Ruud had the day off.  But Djokovic still looked plenty fresh for his semifinal on Saturday against Taylor Fritz, and was able to prevent the American from extending that tight contest to a third set.  Novak is 3-0 against Casper, which includes a straight-set victory at this same event a year ago.  And considering Ruud’s poor record in significant finals, Djokovic is a considerable favorite to win his sixth title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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