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Rivalry Renewed: After Fireworks Last Year in Paris, Ruud Hopes for 'Friendly" Affair Against Rune in Rome

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday May 17, 2023

Last year at Roland-Garros, Casper Ruud and Holger Rune had a frosty encounter that led to some bad blood off the court. Rune later said that Ruud, miffed by some of Rune’s antics during their tense four-set quarterfinal, taunted him in the locker room.

Tennis Express

Ruud denied it, calling it a “big lie” in his native tongue, and since then the animosity that the pair now share has been quietly percolating – until now...

It will be rivalry renewed on Saturday in Rome.

Ruud and Rune both came through their quarterfinals on Wednesday in Rome to set an all-Scandinavian semifinal, and the fifth all-time meeting for the pair.

It’s a rivalry that has been dominated by Ruud thus far, as the Norwegian has won all four battles and claimed nine of ten sets against Rune, but the Danish star is carving a path to the top of the sport and Friday’s semifinal makes for must-watch tennis.

The rivalry is heating up, but the friendship remains rather tepid.

Have they become friends since their heated quarterfinal in Paris last june?

“That’s a good question,” said Ruud. “I think we both respect each other. I didn’t send him a Christmas card and neither did he, to me, so I’m not sure if we can say that we are too close."

Anxious to change the subject, Ruud turned the conversation to a happier subject: the rise of players from Nordic countries on the ATP Tour. But he did say that he hoped that Saturday's semifinal between himself and Rune is more "friendly."

"It’s great to see Scandinavian success, I think it’s really good for Nordic countries. Ruusuvuori (who hails from Finland) is there, the Ymer brothers from Sweden, it’s really cool to have a group of guys that are good and we get along good enough so we are just going to focus on the tennis part on Saturday, both of us, and hopefully make it more friendly during and after the match this time.”

Ruud on Rune: He’s Improved So Much

They may not be bosom buddies, but Ruud has the utmost respect for the rising Dane’s game.

“He’s a very energetic player," Ruud said. “We haven’t played since Roland-Garros last year, where there was quite the match. He’s improved so much. I played him a couple of times 2021 and a couple of times in 2022 and his improvement is really good, you can see that his confidence is good on court and he really deserves to be where he is at the moment. He has big goals for his career and he is [passing] through one goal after another, so I’m just going to try to think about what I’ve done well against him before.”

Win or lose on Saturday, and despite the tension that still lingers between himself and Rune, the World No.4 is happy to be players from Nordic countries making their way to the top of the sport.

“I think it’s great for Scandinavian tennis,” Ruud said. “We have two Scandinavians here in the semifinals in Rome – it shows that we are doing something good up there in the north.”