ROME (Reuters) – Holger Rune battled from a set and break down to seal a 6-7(2) 6-4 6-2 win over world number four Casper Ruud in an absorbing all-Scandinavian Italian Open semi-final on Saturday and meets Stefanos Tsitsipas or Daniil Medvedev next.
French and U.S. Open runner-up Ruud took a tight first set on the back of 22 winners, including 11 on his forehand, and looked well on course for a spot in the final after grabbing the first break of the match in the second set for a 4-2 lead.
“I told myself at this moment I had nothing to lose, he’s probably going to win the match,” Denmark’s Rune said. “So I told myself to play free and enjoy myself as it would probably be my last set here.”
Rune took a medical timeout for a minor shoulder problem and that looked to throw Estoril champion Ruud off his game as the 24-year-old Norwegian surrendered his serve twice to get dragged into a deciding set.
A double-fault gifted Rune a break and a 3-1 lead in the final set and the 20-year-old never looked back as he sealed a first victory over Ruud in five meetings.
“I really played some of my best tennis,” said Rune, who beat world number one Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
“Especially in the matches against Novak and Casper. Such difficult players to play against. I had to find my best tennis and I actually didn’t find it today until the end. That’s why I turned it around.”
The second semi-final between Tsitsipas and Medvedev started after a short rain delay.
In the women’s final later on Saturday, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina will meet Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru)