Paris | Rune and Ruud remain on course for a QF clash

No surprises on the seventh day of Roland Garros with third round results in the bottom half of the draw being posted much as expected, as the competitors proficient in clay court play, made the most of their experience to reach the last 16 of the French Open.

I love stepping out onto this court, it’s one of my favourites in the world. I played some of my best tennis here. Every chance I get to step out here and perform in front of a beautiful court, I’m going to fight until the end Holger Rune

The three Americans who were hoping to still be in Paris for a second week were all eliminated, namely Taylor Fritz, the ninth seed, Frances Tiafoe (12) and Marcus Giron all crashed out but not without putting up more than credible performances by taking their opponents to four sets.

Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo beat Fritz 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-5, Germany’s Alexander Zverev overcame Tiafoe 3-6 7-6(3) 6-1 7-6(5) while Chilean Nicolas Jarry defeated Giron 6-2 6-3 6-7(2) 6-3.

Fritz, who was booed off court following his defeat of Frenchman Arthur Rinderknecht in the previous round and then antagonised the crowd with a gesture for silence, was booed onto Court Suzanne Lenglen for his meeting with the Argentine who was enjoying the best run of his career at a major.

Aiming to improve on his own best run to the third round four years ago, Fritz started well but when Cerundolo settled and his big forehand started to hit its mark, the match swung dramatically the way of the South American and despite a fight back in the fourth, he progressed into the last 16, secured after two-hours and 50-minutes on his second match point.

Earlier in the day, Giron had fallen to another in-form South American, Jarry, winner of the Geneva Open in the week prior to Roland Garros while Tiafoe was given top billing against Zverev in the evening where he was edged out by the German who is regaining the form which saw him reach the semi-final of the championships exactly one year ago, when he suffered a bad ankle injury against Rafa Nadal, the eventual champion.

It took Zverev nearly four hours of graft and heavy serving on the Court Philippe Chatrier to gain his victory as the clock passed midnight.

Later Zverev admitted: “It’s been definitely the hardest year of my life, that’s for sure.

“I love tennis more than anything in the world, I play the sport not because of the money or the fame, not because of anything else but the pure sport.

“I love the competitiveness, I love playing in front of you guys, so to have that be taken away from me was very difficult.

“I’m so happy to be back here, playing these tough battles again, and hopefully it’s going to be a fun second week for me because I’m here to stay.”

Francisco Cerundolo took out the top American hope

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Like the US, Argentina had three players still in contention and they proved more successful with two actually progressing as Tomas Martin Etcheverry joined Cerundolo in round four after eliminating Croatia’s Borna Coric, the 15th seed, 6-3 7-6(5) 6-2.

Until this year, Etcheverry had never even won a match at grand slam level but the 23-year-old from La Plata is starting to make his presence felt on the tour with another fine victory.

The second set proved crucial as Etcheverry doubled his lead and Coric, who was appearing in the third round for the first time since 2019, could not find an answer as his opponent avenged his two compatriots who had been beaten by the Croat in the preceding two rounds.

The only loss suffered by the Argentine camp was Genaro Alberto Olivieri, a qualifier, who was quickly dispatched by the sixth seeded Holger Rune of Denmark, 6-4 6-1 6-3.

Rune, who had received a walkover in the previous round, edged his opponent in the first set to set up what proved to be a straightforward win over his 24-year-old opponent making his debut at grand slam level.

Speaking after his match, the 20-year-old Dane said on court: “I played my first round on Tuesday and unfortunately, couldn’t play my second round against Gael Monfils. I wish him all the best, he’s an incredible player. Super happy with my win today, it was difficult. It was windy, and Olivieri played a good tournament, so I had to be sharp.

“I love stepping out onto this court, it’s one of my favourites in the world. I played some of my best tennis here. Every chance I get to step out here and perform in front of a beautiful court, I’m going to fight until the end.”

He explained he had played a ‘match’ in order to stay sharp following Monfils’ withdrawal with a wrist injury, adding: “I played a practice match the day before yesterday to imitate [the match I missed]. I won! It’s nice to keep the rhythm, but it’s different to a proper match. I had to be sharp today, having to play my best. There are things to improve, but I’m happy to be in the fourth round with another great match coming.”

And that will be against another ‘Argentino’ named Cerundolo.

Casper Ruud hopes to gone better than the reaching the final this year.

Andy Cheung/Getty Images

Rune’s main rival for an eventual place in the final should be Norway’s Casper Ruud, last year’s runner-up, whom he will face in the quarters should the pair get through the next round.

Seeded four, Ruud dropped the first set of his match with China’s 26-year-old Zhizhen Zhang but went on to defeat him 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-4.

“It was very tough,” Ruud said. “I was a bit frustrated at the beginning. I didn’t start as I hoped, and he was hitting many winners. I didn’t really find a hole in his game. Then at 5-4 in the second set he got sloppy and that gave me confidence. I started playing better in the third and fourth.”

In other action the 28th-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, defeated Daniel Altmaier 6-4 6-3 6-1 and looks in excellent form having yet to drop a set yet while Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka took out Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild 3-6 7-6(8) 2-6 6-4 6-0.

During the match Nishioka picked up a penalty point for crossing to the other side of the net to strongly dispute a line call which went against him,

“He played amazing and he had a chance to win the second set as well,” Nishioka said later. “If he had, maybe it would have been a different match.

“But at 3-6 down in the tie-break, I never gave up and that’s the reason I made the last 16 today.”

Alexander Zverev could spring a few surprises

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