With Rome at the semi final stage in the men’s tournament, each of the four men remaining will feel they have a good chance of winning the title. Holger Rune and Casper Ruud face off in the first match of the day with the former hoping to finally get his first win on the board in this match up. Ruud has won each meeting with all four of them coming on clay, including a four setter at last year’s Roland Garros.
The early stage of Rune’s tournament didn’t really tell us a great deal with two qualifiers and a wildcard beaten on his way to the quarter finals. However, his defeat of Novak Djokovic in the quarters has to be seen as a big deal still even with the No. 2 no longer looking unstoppable on most surfaces. He held his nerve in a rain-hit match to take it 6-2 4-6 6-2, with the key break coming right at the start of the deciding set not long after the resumption of play. “I stay humble of course. I have a lot to achieve,” said the Dane. “I think you should always be humble. I think I am, I hope so and I hope people see me this way. I’m a huge fighter on the court and I leave everything when I play my matches. I’m super proud I was able to get the victory today. I had to fight hard and play my best tennis.
Ruud is back in the Rome semi final for the third time in a row thanks to his win over Francisco Cerundolo. His 7-6 6-4 win over the Argentinian wasn’t the prettiest with plenty of errors from a pair of players happy to just battle from the baseline. Having played Novak Djokovic in both of his previously Rome semis, he will likely be happy to face a different opponent even if it is one that has defeated the Serbian.
This does feel like the best chance of breaking his duck for Rune, who is improving quickly and already has two clay finals to his name this year. While the Rome scheduling has looked questionable at times, it has been helpful for the players like him who have played some lengthier matches earlier in the week. This will likely be another baseline battle and that should favour the cleaner hitter which has to be Rune at this stage. He should be full of confidence and will be hungry for his first clay Masters 1000, which he was so close to in Monte Carlo. The Djokovic win may prove massive with that still a statement win for players in and around the elite tier.
Prediction – Holger Rune in three sets