Ruud Ousts Hurkacz To Reach Maiden Grand Slam QF
Momentum is building for Casper Ruud at Roland Garros.
The eighth seed fended off a strong comeback from Hubert Hurkacz to complete a 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory in the fourth round on Monday afternoon and reach his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final in Paris.
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“It feels great,” said Ruud in his on-court interview. “It’s been one of the goals for me this year, to try and reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. I don’t know why, but suddenly when I came here this year I felt a little bit more experienced playing five sets. I wasn’t able to play in Australia so Roland Garros was a big goal for me, especially this year.”
In a meeting between two players both making fourth-round debuts in the French capital, it was the World No. 8 Ruud who took control early as the 12th-seeded Hurkacz was unable to consistently counter the powerful ballstriking of Ruud on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
The Norwegian has frequently demonstrated the ability to handle tough match situations on his way to the last eight in Paris. He opened with an emotional four-set win in home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s last match before retirement and came through a five-set thriller against Lorenzo Sonego in the third round.
Ruud stayed calm under pressure again against Hurkacz, keeping his cool after the Pole raised his game to clinch the third set and then opened up an early lead in the fourth. Despite the efforts of Monte Carlo and Madrid quarter-finalist Hurkacz, Ruud was clinical in notching two breaks of his own to seal an eighth straight win and book a quarter-final appointment with Stefanos Tsitsipas or Holger Rune.
“Hubert has improved a lot on clay from previous years,” said Ruud. “He has become a dangerous player on all surfaces, especially here on the clay where if the sun is out, it is quite fast.
“Of course, he has a dangerous serve, and the goal today was to try and get many returns back. I did very well in the first two sets. I was able to make him play a lot of points and was able to run around my forehand and control many points. He raised his level a little bit in the third, and one poor service game by myself and then he had a break.
“It turns around quick in tennis. It was looking a bit dark in the fourth set as well but luckily I was able to break him back a couple of times.”
Hurkacz found himself under pressure early as the Pole’s usually reliable first serve eluded him in the opening set. Ruud stayed solid and was able to break three times with relative ease to become the first player to take a set off Hurkacz in the tournament.
There was some improvement from the Pole in a tighter second set but again a slow start cost him. Ruud whipped his trademark big forehand to great effect to break in the second game and then saved a break point in the next game to establish a 3-0 lead. That was as close as Hurkacz came to reclaiming the break as the Norwegian took command from the baseline.
Despite his two-set deficit Hurkacz was rewarded for the steady improvement in his game over the course of the match as he clinched the third set with a break in the sixth game. The World No. 13 looked to have taken control as he broke for 2-1 in the fourth set, but Ruud regained his composure to break twice himself and seal a two-hour, 31-minute victory.
Ruud has been one of the most consistent clay-court players on Tour in recent years, with seven of his eight titles coming on the surface. Until this year he had not been able to convert that form into a deep run at Roland Garros, however, with third-round appearances in 2019, 2020 and 2021 his best previous showings in Paris.