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Ruud Denies Rune's Fightback To Return To Roland Garros SFs

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2023

Ruud Denies Rune’s Fightback To Return To Roland Garros SFs

Norwegian improves to 5-1 in ATP Head2Head, meets Zverev next

For the second straight year in the Roland Garros quarter-finals, Casper Ruud edged fellow Scandinavian Holger Rune in four entertaining sets on Court Philippe-Chatrier. On Wednesday evening, the fourth-seeded Norwegian earned a 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory against the Dane to continue his bid for a second consecutive final at the clay-court major.

Ruud improved to 5-1 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head, avenging a Rome semi-final defeat from last month. All six of their meetings have come on clay. By winning the matchup of two of the most successful clay-court players this season, Ruud picked up his 16th win on the surface in 2023 (16-5), drawing him level on wins with Rune (16-4).

“I’m very, very relieved. I came into this match just trying to play without pressure. But it’s not easy, obviously. You’re playing a big match and against Holger it’s never easy,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “He plays very aggressive. Luckily for me the first two sets he wasn’t probably feeling it too well, he was doing a lot of errors, so I sort of got a lot of points for free.

“So that helped the nerves, but he fought back. Third set he came out playing better and then in the fourth set I was just lucky to get that one break and then keep it all the way out.”

The victory moved Ruud above Rune to No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings; he could rise past Stefanos Tsitsipas and maintain his status as World No. 4 by reaching his third Grand Slam final, but cannot move any higher even with his first major title. The 24-year-old will meet Alexander Zverev in Friday’s semis, after the German beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry in four sets earlier on Wednesday.

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Ruud dominated the opening two sets of the quarter-final as his 20-year-old opponent seemed to show the effects of his five-set victory against Francisco Cerundolo in the fourth round. The Norwegian’s dominance in the rallies left Rune struggling to find a response, with the Dane misfiring by big margins from the baseline and unsuccessfully taking risks to shorten points.

After saving a break point in the opening game of set three, Rune grabbed a lifeline with an early break, his comeback bid spurred on by the evening Chatrier crowd. Fueled by his forehand, Rune summoned his best tennis to power through the set without facing another break point, but his charge was cut short when Ruud broke for 3-1 in the fourth.

The Dane made his opponent earn his victory, bringing up 15/40 in the ensuing return game and later saving two match points on serve to make it 3-5. But the fourth seed had no problem serving out the match, clinching victory on his fifth match point to return to the semi-finals — a stage at which he is 3-0 at the majors.

Rune, who has had his two best major showings by reaching back-to-back quarters at Roland Garros, is the second Danish man to reach that stage in multiple majors (Kurt Nielsen). He was denied in his bid to become the first Danish men’s singles semi-finalist at a major since Jan Leschly at the 1967 US Championships.

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Zverev Passes Etcheverry Test At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2023

Zverev Passes Etcheverry Test At Roland Garros

German into third consecutive Roland Garros semi-final

Alexander Zverev didn’t have things all his own way on Wednesday, but he stepped up when needed to reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the third consecutive season.

In a heavy-hitting baseline battle against Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Zverev overcame an attacking bombardment from the Argentine to triumph 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

“The conditions during the day are a lot better for me,” Zverev said. “The ball is a lot faster and bounces higher. I love to play on clay and day conditions are better… I am in the semi-finals at Roland Garros and I am happy about that.

“The 5-4 game [in the fourth set] was incredible from both of us. He was hitting the ball extremely hard and I was hitting the ball extremely hard. At the end of the day I think I deserved to win.”

With his three-hour, 22-minute win, the German improved to 28-7 at the clay-court major, while he climbed four spots to No. 23 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. Zverev will continue the quest for his maiden major title when he meets Casper Ruud or Holger Rune on Friday.

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Etcheverry, who advanced to finals on clay in Santiago and Houston earlier this year, was competing in his first major quarter-final. The 23-year-old did not drop a set en route to the last eight and played with aggression against Zverev, unleashing on the forehand to trouble the German.

After the first two sets were split, Zverev began to find his rhythm. From 0-2 down in the third set, the German reeled off five straight games to take control. He struck 12 winners in the set and moved forward effectively to win 86 per cent (12/14) of net points. Zverev then was then consistent in the fourth, limiting errors off his backhand wing and saving all four break points he faced to earn his 21st win of the season and 13th on clay.

“He is playing incredible tennis,” Zverev said when asked about Etcheverry. “He reminds me a lot of [Juan Martin] del Potro. The way he plays and the way he hits his forehand. He is an incredible player. I think if he continues to play like this he will be in the quarter-finals here a lot more and he can be Top 10 and win big tournaments. He proved it this week and I wish him nothing but the best.”

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Zverev, who will compete in his sixth major semi-final on Friday, suffered a right ankle injury against Rafael Nadal in the last four in Paris in 2022. After a six-month recuperation period, the 26-year-old returned to Tour in January and has slowly regained his level. He reached the fourth round at ATP Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome before he arrived in Paris last week off the back of a semi-final run in Geneva.

Aiming to win his first title since the Nitto ATP Finals in 2021, the 22nd seed has made further progress this fortnight, defeating seeds Frances Tiafoe and Grigor Dimitrov.

“It was the most difficult year of my life,” Zverev said when reflecting on the past year. “I love tennis with all my heart and the competitiveness that was taken away a year ago. I am so happy to be back at this stage.”

Etcheverry had never won a match at Roland Garros prior to this year, but announced himself by defeating Jack Draper, Alex de Minaur, Borna Coric and Yoshihito Nishioka in Paris. The 23-year-old is up 18 spots to No. 31 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his run. He reached a career-high No. 46 last month.

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The Diet Behind Etcheverry’s Success: 'It Makes A Significant Difference To Fitness'

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2023

The Diet Behind Etcheverry’s Success: ‘It Makes A Significant Difference To Fitness’

Argentine meets Zverev in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros

Editor’s note: This story was translated from

The only negative Tomas Martin Etcheverry might find in the fact that he is still in the competition at Roland Garros is having to deprive himself of a large number of treats that his diet as an elite athlete prohibits him from eating. Ice cream, pizza and pancakes are some of the foods the 23-year-old Argentine only allows himself to have occasionally once he has been knocked out of a tournament.

But avoiding his guilty eating pleasures and sticking to the diet put forward by nutritionist Luciano Spena has been fruitful for the Argentine. Before making his bow in the quarter-finals of a major on Wednesday against Alexander Zverev at Roland Garros, Etcheverry spoke to about the importance of food in his career. He also touched upon his potential as a chef and his favourite dish when he’s not competing (his grandmother’s milanesa).

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If you invited friends for dinner at your house, what would you cook and why?

An asado. We’re pretty good with barbeques in my country. When I’m with friends I light the barbeque, we drink mate… You need a decent amount of time so that the meat is properly cooked, and I like that because I can relax, chat and rest.

How would you rate your cooking skills from 1 to 10?
I don’t know. I’m not bad. I’m best on the barbeque. I would like to learn to cook more. During the pandemic I tried to learn new things. I like cooking. With my girlfriend I took a lot of classes for tacos, sauces for pastas, and things like that. I still want to learn to make risotto and to season better. That’s the key to good flavour.

How strict are you with your diet?
Very strict! At the elite level it makes a significant difference in terms of fitness. Sleep and food complement that. It’s very important. I only allow myself certain things when a tournament is over. I might eat a dessert at night when I know I’m not competing. But I try to follow the diet.

Which foods do you eat when you cheat on your diet?
Ice cream! I really like zabaione flavour. I also have a weakness for flan, pancakes. Anything with cheese, fried things. After tournaments or when I’m taking a break in Argentina are the only chances I have to eat things like that. But the less you allow yourself to do it, the better. These things will do you no good in the long run.

How different is your diet on tour and when you’re not competing?
It’s pretty similar. Several Argentine players have the same nutritionist, he’s called Luciano Spena. He gives you several things to choose from. And you use that list as a guide. When you’re playing at ATP Tour level it’s very easy because you have everything at the tournament. You go to the canteen and everything is there. It’s most difficult at [ATP] Challenger Tour tournaments, for example. There will definitely not be restaurants at the club with so much variety, and you have to go out. Then you have preprepared meals and it’s more difficult to change them. But you do what you can.

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What is your diet based on?
There’s always a protein and a little salad. We try to avoid dark meats, especially in competition. We eat pasta occasionally, around midday. It’s quite helpful. I also eat a lot of fruit, and I snack on protein bars mid-morning and in the afternoon. Supplements are another very important aspect.

Apart from desserts, which other foods do you avoid when you’re competing?
I can’t eat anything fried, nothing with fat. I have to avoid anything that could be too rich. Pizza for example.

What do you eat the night before a match?
Some meat with vegetables. That’s it. Something light. Maybe I can eat a dessert of just fruit and I’m done.

What about on the day of the match?
It depends a lot on the time. If I’m playing in the morning I eat more the previous night. If I’m playing in the afternoon I eat less the night before and I have a big breakfast in the morning. It depends on the plan. If I’m playing in the afternoon, for example, I’ll have something light at midday. Rice, maybe. It’s important to have had a decent breakfast.

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What do you consume during matches?

I eat bananas and nuts. That keeps me going. In terms of hydration, a lot of water, some sports drinks and salts.

Which is your favourite dish you’ve ever eaten?
I have two. Matambre a la pizza, a dish in my country. And my grandmother’s milanesa. Whenever I go to Argentina I visit her so I can have it.

Would you like to learn how to cook it?
I can’t because it’s a secret and my grandmother won’t tell anyone! I don’t know if she’ll reveal it at some point. I don’t know what it could be, I’ve always wanted to know. But there’s nothing like it.

Do you have any favourite dishes that aren’t Argentinian?
Ceviche from Peru. The pasta in Italy is amazing. Also pizza. I know my diet doesn’t allow it, but when you go to Italy you have to have the odd pizza. It’s amazing.

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Gilbert On The Tactical Change That Could Give Djokovic Edge vs. Alcaraz

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2023

Gilbert On The Tactical Change That Could Give Djokovic Edge vs. Alcaraz

American expects Djokovic to up the aggression

Like anyone who’s watched Carlos Alcaraz storm through three seeded opponents to reach the Roland Garros semi-finals, Brad Gilbert has been impressed by the 20-year-old’s dominance in Paris. 

But for the former World No. 4 — who has coached the likes of Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray — it is something other than Alcaraz’s seemingly limitless power that has stood out.

“He’s played with more guile. He’s played with more variety than he did last year,” Gilbert assessed. “He’s not trying to go through you. He can go through you, but he’s playing with a lot more shape and a lot more spin.”

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After straight-sets wins against 26th seed Denis Shapovalov, 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti and fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alcaraz now faces his toughest test yet in Novak Djokovic.

Gilbert noted the shift from three opponents with one-handed backhands to the steady and solid two-hander of the Serbian. But he also pointed to one significant mental edge for Alcaraz against the 22-time major champ — a factor that would work against the Spaniard’s three latest victims, who hold a combined 3-22 record against Djokovic.

“So many of these young guys, they come in with a lot of skeletons, facing Djoker. He doesn’t,” Gilbert said. “He just played him that one time [last year in Madrid], got through it, and then amazingly, won the tournament.”

Gilbert is not putting too much stock in Alcaraz’s 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) win from one year ago, given the faster clay surface and high altitude in Madrid. In fact, he makes Djokovic a slight favourite in the semi-final tilt. Using his customary American football analogy, he handicapped Djokovic as a half-point favourite, potentially rising as high as 1.5 points if wind is not a factor on Friday (Gilbert feels Alcaraz’s power and spin give him more options in blustery conditions).

“Just off of his amazing ability in best-of-five,” Gilbert said, explaining why he gives Djokovic the slight edge. That ability was on full display in the quarter-finals, when the Serbian weathered an early storm against Karen Khachanov and played a flawless tie-break to avoid falling into a two-set hole.


Djokovic has won all five tie-breaks he’s played this fortnight, all without a single unforced error. Gilbert calls it “lockdown mode”. But Alcaraz may be able to crack the code.

“Will he be able to do that against the Alcaraz offense?” Gilbert wondered. “Which maybe makes the coach in me think that you might see him play more offensive-minded. Maybe he thinks, ‘Shoot, if I don’t play a little more offensive-minded, I could get pushed around.’

“That’s what I do love about him. He can do something and, boom, it can change, because there’s still time in this five-set format.”

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As far as the baseline exchanges, Gilbert praised both players for their defensive skills and movement and explained how they attack in different ways: “I would say Alcaraz has a big, big offense where he can hurt you with one shot,” he said. “And Djoker can string you four balls, which can burn your lungs.”

As for the intangibles, Gilbert doesn’t make much of Alcaraz’s relative inexperience deep in the Slams, but he does feel Djokovic’s ability to play his best with the crowd against him could come into play.

While he called clay a neutral surface for the competitors — Gilbert believes Alcaraz is currently at his best on hard courts — he likened the 20-year-old to Rafael Nadal in his ability to handle the Serbian’s best punch.

“Djokovic is playing a guy that, just like in Rafa on this surface, he could play well and still lose,” he said.

Brad Gilbert is the author of the seminal tennis strategy book Winning Ugly.

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