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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday May 20, 2023

For those hoping for a spicy, bad blood-laden rematch between Scandinavia’s two finest men’s players, there might have been disappointment in the end on Saturday in Rome.

Tennis Express

After Holger Rune finished off his 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2 victory there was nothing but respect at the net from the two players who created controversy when they last met in Paris, in 2022.

The message? The bad blood is in the rearview and Saturday’s tussle was all about the tennis.

And the tennis was fantastic from both ends.

In the end it was Rune who came away with his seventh consecutive Top-5 win, and Ruud who came away impressed with the talent of the 20-year-old Dane.

“I think he plays very fearless, takes the ball early, which is really impressive to do on clay,” Rune said. “It's not very typical to sort of do too well on clay because you have some wrong bounces and all these things. He did it really well. A couple times I played heavy, he just went on the rise, hit the clean winner back. I think that's really well done.”

Ruud said that the Dane will most certainly be a player to watch at Roland-Garros this year.

“I think to me he's obviously one to look out for and someone who can do really well,” Ruud said. “I think there are a lot of guys that can. I think he's probably going to get his best Grand Slam result yet in Roland Garros this year. There are others that will want to do the same. I think he's definitely one to watch out for in Roland Garros, yes.”

Ruud himself will be one to watch in Paris as well. He is the former runner-up after all, and on Saturday he played some of the best tennis he has played all year. He simply didn’t finish the match as strong as he started it.

“I had the lead and felt like the finish line was close, but it wasn't in the end,” he said. “Holger broke back. I played some poor shots, did a couple of bad mistakes. That's how it goes.

“I was very happy with the level that we played at for almost two sets. Like I said, third set was unfortunately poorly by me. I'm going to try to sort of erase that from the memory as quick as possible.”

Rune has become known for his stormy character and ability to get under the skin of fans and foe alike, but he too was happy to put the controversy with Ruud behind him.

“All good. I mean, we obviously talked after French Open and we're good,” Rune said. “I have zero problem with him. He's a great player. He's showing some of his best tennis, especially on clay. He's tough to play. I respect him a lot. I'm happy to finally get my first win over him.”