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Rune follows up win over Djokovic by beating Ruud to reach Italian Open final

2023 Italian Open

ROME , ITALY - MAY 20: Holger Rune of Denmark celebrates his victory against Casper Ruud (not seen) of Norway in the men’s single match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Italian Open) at the Foro Italico in Rome, Italy on May 20, 2023. Rune reaches Rome final. (Photo by Claudio Pasquazi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

ROME -- Holger Rune followed up his latest victory over Novak Djokovic with another impressive performance, producing a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2 comeback win over fellow Scandinavian Casper Ruud to reach the Italian Open final.

It’s the third clay-court final this season for Rune, after the 20-year-old Dane won a title in Munich, Germany, and was beaten by Andrey Rublev for the Monte Carlo Masters trophy.

In the final, Rune will face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Daniil Medvedev, who were up next on Campo Centrale.

Later, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina was playing Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in the women’s final.

Rome is the last big tournament before the French Open starts next weekend and both Rune and Ruud are shaping up as contenders.

The seventh-ranked Rune was coming off a win over six-time Rome champion Djokovic in the quarterfinals - his second victory against the 22-time Grand Slam champion in little more than six months.

The fourth-ranked Ruud, who is from Norway, reached the final last year at Roland Garros, losing to Rafael Nadal - who announced that he won’t be competing in Paris because of a lingering hip injury that has sidelined him since January.

In a tight and spectacular first set, Ruud won the first five points of the tiebreaker to take control.

The match was filled with memorable points, starting when Ruud ran down a drop shot and replied with a delicate but sharply angled winner in the second game.

Rune was ready the next time that Ruud attempted the same shot and ran down a seemingly impossible ball outside the doubles alley, sending Ruud back toward the baseline before eventually finishing the point off with a volley winner. Rune then waved his hands to urge on roars from the crowd.

After Ruud broke serve midway through the second set, Rune took a medical timeout to have his right shoulder treated.

Rune then produced an 83 mph forehand return winner off a first serve as he broke to take the second set.

At the start of the third, Rune whipped another forehand cross-court after he was stretched off the court.

Under constant pressure due to Rune’s court coverage and footspeed, Ruud double-faulted to hand Rune a break early in the third and never recovered.

The match was played in overcast conditions under intermittent rain.