Casper Ruud reaches his second final in a major - UBITENNIS
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Casper Ruud reaches his second final in a major

Casper Ruud is into his second Grand Slam final after a four set win over Karen Khachanov.

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Casper Ruud (@Weesesports - Twitter)

By defeating Karen Khachanov 76 62 57 62 Casper Ruud keeps all his dreams alive.

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Is Casper Ruud going to follow in the steps of Dominic Thiem, the Austrian who, after losing two Roland Garros finals to Rafa Nadal, went on to triumph at the US Open 2020?

I’m just so happy. After Roland Garros I was of course extremely happy but at the same time humble enough to think that that could be my only final in a grand slam in my career. That doesn’t come so easy. And here I am a couple of months later and it feels beyond words to describe,” Ruud said in his after match interview.

As the match took off, an unexpected array of unforced errors coming from both sides disappointed those who were expecting lengthy, breath-catching rallies from two players who are renowned for their consistency. Khachanov was far from his serving standards of his previous match, when he had fired just one ace less than Kyrgios, 30.  Ruud and Khachanov traded breaks twice, then quite flatly trudged on to a tiebreak.

A netted forehand cost the Russian a minibreak. Ruud maintained his lead and took the tiebreak finishing off a 55 shot rally with a backhand down the line.

We were both a bit nervous at the beginning. This match is probably the biggest match for both of our careers and of course there will always be some nerves.  I was fortunate to win in that first set, which calmed my nerves a little bit.

Khachanov came back from 0-40 in the first game of the second set, but in the third game his forehand started letting him down. He lost 4 straight games. Ruud played with due diligence and closed the set 62, never dropping a point on serve.

Khachanov deserves full credit for putting up a battle in the third set. He even earned a break point in the fourth game, but Ruud saved it with a blazing forehand.

The set seemed to be heading toward a tiebreak, when Ruud suddenly blacked out in the 12th game: A double fault, a netted backhand, a forehand sprayed wide and a routinary inside out forehand entrapped halfway up the net: the Russian took the set 75.

On the spur of the momentum Khachanov tried a few hazardous shots in the first game of the fourth set and risked being broken. He got away with it. But he lost his next game on serve, Ruud well pressuring with his forehand and conquering the most spectacular rally of the match with a smashing forehand down the line on the run, which evoked memories of Ivan Lendl.

Ruud broke again in the fifth game.  Few minutes later he had match point and ended with a flourish:  an elegant dropshot after forcing Khachanov further and further back with a succession of inside out forehands.

In the final set Ruud was definitely playing his best tennis. But he did go through a few tough moments in which his level slumped. Yet, on court he never appeared in low spirits or frustrated. What’s his secret?

Tennis is a psychological game as well as physical. Sometimes we are trying to act like we have good posture. On the inside we probably feel different so there is a bit of acting as well in sports. I don’t know how I’m able to do it. I take some deep breaths and think that of course it is an important match but there will hopefully be hundreds of more matches in my career so it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go my way. Of course, you want to take care of the opportunities you have and I was able to do that today.

His next opponent will be either Carlos Alcaraz or Frances Tiafoe, two players who do not refrain from showing their emotions on court. This contrast will add extra spice to the show.  

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World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Roland Garros 2024: Casper Ruud Explains Geneva Decision, Martin Etcheverry Talks Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Two-time finalist Casper Ruud is into the second round with a straight sets win over Felipe Meligeni Alves.

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Casper Ruud has explained the decision behind playing in Geneva last week after he defeated Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The world number seven is into the second round after a straight sets win over the Brazilian qualifier.

Ruud has reached the final the past two occasions here having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in those respective finals.

Now the Norwegian is targeting more success in Paris this year and spoke about his opening round performance after the match, “Yeah, I was honestly very happy. I think it was a good start,” Ruud stated in his press conference.

“I think Felipe is a dangerous player, and obviously I didn’t know him so well. So not easy to know what’s going to come out of his racquet. I think he was firing pretty good serves and forehands.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty high-quality match and happy to be through in straight sets. That’s just what I was kind of hoping and looking for. Yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Given Ruud’s history at Roland Garros, there would be no reason to suggest that the Norwegian would need to play his way into form.

However that’s exactly what he did in Geneva the week before Roland Garros as he won the title in Switzerland.

After his opening round match Ruud was asked about why he always plays in Geneva instead of practicing on-site in Paris, “No, I decide based on the fact that I enter the tournament, and with the purpose of going. But of course, if you do super well in Madrid and Rome and you play, let’s say, 10 matches or more within those two weeks or the two tournaments, maybe, depending on how your body feels, it’s kind of easier to skip it,” Ruud explained.

“But that wasn’t the case for me in Madrid and Rome. I played only four matches there. I lost early in Rome. If I didn’t play Geneva I would have had 17 or 18 days since I lost in Rome until starting in Roland Garros, which in my eyes, my feeling, is just a bit too much. For some players, they don’t think it’s too much. They don’t have a problem with it.

“But for me I like going into tournament kind of mode and feeling in the zone when you’re playing an official match. That’s why I like playing. It gives me kind of confidence and match feeling going into a Grand Slam, which is the Grand Slam that I personally feel like I have the most chances to do well in.”

Ruud will aim to continue his good run of form when he takes on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Martin Etcheverry Speaks On Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Finally Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated Arthur Cazaux in four sets to seal his place in the second round.

The Argentinian is a big Novak Djokovic fan and after the match spoke about his love for Roland Garros and has tipped Djokovic to win this year’s tournament, “I think it’s my favorite tournament since I was a child, and I always want to play here,” Martin Etcheverry explained.

“This is a moment of the year that I want to be here and try to play my best tennis because I want to get a good result here.

“Yeah, is he my idol, and he is the No. 1 of the world. I don’t know, like six years right now. Yeah, I always try to watch him, trying to improve the game. I always trying to saw him. Yeah, I think he’s going to be No. 1 a lot of time. I don’t know if they have a good year this year, but I think it’s Novak Djokovic. Maybe he can win this tournament.”

Martin Etcheverry will play another Frenchman in the form of Arthur Rinderknech in the second round with Ruud being the potential third round opponent.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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image via https://x.com/Boticvdz/

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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