Things were a little different this year. Ruud was seeded fourth instead of eighth. Rune was seeded sixth instead of not being seeded at all. And instead of winning a set like he did in the 2022 quarterfinals, Rune nearly got swept. Ruud won 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and is on to the semifinals, where he'll face Alexander Zverev.
Everyone expected to see a closely contested match between Ruud and Rune on Wednesday, but that's not what we got. Rune was simply awful for the first two sets, missing easy shots and making numerous unforced errors. It came out of nowhere, and there weren't any obvious explanations. It had been 48 hours since his previous match, and he didn't appear to be hurt or tired. But Ruud easily dominated Rune for the first 70 minutes of the match.
Rune seemed to remember that he's a high-level professional tennis player after hopelessly losing the first two sets and finally began to play like it. His game made a complete 180-degree turn, and suddenly he was the one dictating the pace and making Ruud dash all around the court. While Ruud appeared to struggle with his energy level, Rune rediscovered his power, his aim and his aggression and let that lead him to a third-set victory.
That, however, was all Rune could muster. Ruud rolled through the fourth set with ease to close out their match and secure his spot in the semifinals.
Rune didn't get suffocated by Ruud last year the way he did Wednesday, but Ruud has won the vast majority of their meetings. In five previous career matchups, Ruud has defeated Rune four times. But in their most recent meeting prior to the French Open, at the semifinals of the Italian Open in May, Rune finally broke through and defeated Ruud. That was a three-set match, not a Grand Slam five-setter.
Despite his uncharacteristic play Wednesday, Rune has improved a lot since his breakout at last year's French Open. He was the No. 40 player in the world coming into the 2022 French Open, and this year, he began his campaign at Roland Garros ranked No. 6. He had just one title to his name last year at this time, but since then, he has won three more titles and made the finals in two other tournaments.
The Rune who showed up on the court to play Ruud wasn't the Rune we're used to seeing, but he's the Rune who lost the match, despite the valiant third-set turnaround.
Etcheverry's luck runs out against Zverev
The Cinderella run of Tomás Martín Etcheverry, a 23-year-old from Argentina who made his pro debut just two-and-a-half years ago, has ended at the French Open. Alexander Zverev, the No. 22 seed, defeated Etcheverry 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 3 hours, 22 minutes.
Etcheverry, currently ranked No. 49 in the world, had yet to drop a set at Roland Garros until he faced Zverev, who was able to exploit Etcheverry's tendency to be predictable instead of changing directions during rallies. Etcheverry switched up his game in the second set, playing more aggressively and challenging Zverev, but he wasn't able keep up that level of play.
Etcheverry took the second set, but Zverev was in control from that point on. Etcheverry continued to break through every few games in the final sets, pulling off a hold or two with some effervescent play, but Zverev maintained the lead and calmly prevailed.
Before this week, the farthest Etcheverry had ever been at a Grand Slam was the second round at the Australian Open back in January.
Roland Garros' newest underdog was happy to share details about his life with the media. He has loved tennis since he was young and named his childhood dog after his favorite tournament: Roland Garros. He revealed that his sister died last year of breast cancer and discussed how he speaks to her during difficult moments on the court.
Etcheverry’s sister died of cancer in 2022
She’s still guiding him in his biggest moments:
“I always ask my sister for strength. She always gives it to me. At a big moment I said “Magui help me please. It helped me put an ace”
Playing for more. ❤️🩹
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) June 5, 2023
This was a significant match for Zverev as well. He has made it back to the semifinals, where in 2022 he sustained a horrific ankle injury and was forced to retire against eventual champion Rafael Nadal. He needed surgery and spent the rest of the season recovering instead of competing. Now, a year later, he has returned to the exact same place, and he's clawing himself back into the upper echelon of men's players.