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Tuesday September 26, 2023

Ruud returns to French Open quarter-finals

By AFP
June 06, 2023

PARIS: Casper Ruud, last year´s French Open runner-up, reached the quarter-finals on Monday after beating Chile´s Nicolas Jarry 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 7-5. The fourth seed from Norway avenged last month´s Geneva Open quarter-final defeat by Jarry to set up a potential rematch of a bad-tempered 2022 Roland Garros quarter-final with Holger Rune.

The 24-year-old Ruud edged a tight first set in a tie-break and trailed by a break in both the second and third sets before seeing off the 35th-ranked Jarry. Meanwhile,Coco Gauff reached the French Open quarter-finals for a third successive year on Monday with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova to set up a possible clash with world number one Iga Swiatek.

Gauff, the US sixth seed, was defeated by Swiatek in the 2022 final at Roland Garros. On Monday, she endured a rollercoaster of a first set against her Slovakian opponent who was in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time. The 19-year-old American let slip a 5-2 lead to be pinned back to 5-5 before steadying herself.

She then handed back an early break in the second set before stretching out to another convincing 5-2 lead and serving out the win. Swiatek, bidding to be the first back-to-back champion in Paris since Justine Henin in 2007, faces Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine later Monday.

Beatriz Haddad Maia battled from a set and 3-0 down to defeat Sara Sorribes Tormo in the third longest women´s match ever played at Roland Garros to reach a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final on Monday. The 27-year-old Brazilian left-hander came through 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-5 against her 132nd-ranked Spanish opponent on Court Suzanne Lenglen after three hours and 51 minutes.

The match was just 16 minutes short of the record four hours and seven minutes it took Virginie Buisson to beat French compatriot Noelle van Lottum in the first round at Roland Garros in 1995. Haddad Maia is the first Brazilian woman in a Slam quarter-final since seven-time major winner Maria Bueno in 1968 and will face world number seven Ons Jabeur of Tunisia for a place in the semi-finals.

Bueno also made the quarter-final of Wimbledon and semi-final of the US Open that year. Haddad Maia, ranked 14, claimed victory on a fourth match point. "I am very happy and very proud that I didn´t give up and I think that is why I deserved this victory," she said.

"The key was to play all the points regardless of the score. "I thought that if I was nervous, my opponent would be too. And Novak Djokovic says that he is nervous sometimes. If he is, who am I not to be?"

Haddad Maia had already saved a match point in her last 32 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova to become the first Brazilian woman in the fourth round in Paris since 1979. The 26-year-old Sorribes Tormo had made the last 16 after fourth seed and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina withdrew from their third round clash with illness.

She looked the fresher of the two on Monday as she took the first set and was a double break up in the second before Haddad Maia rallied. The Brazilian swept the next six games to level the tie and broke in the opening game of the decider.

Sorribes Tormo broke back immediately but couldn´t capitalise as Haddad Maia reclaimed the advantage in the fifth game. In a tense finish, Sorribes Tormo saved three match points in the ninth game and broke serve to level at 5-5.

But Haddad Maia broke straight back and this time held her nerve. She is no stranger to energy-sapping duels. In Rome last month, Haddad Maia dropped a three-hour 41-minute quarter-final to Anhelina Kalinina, which is now the second longest women´s match of 2023.