Last year’s runner-up Casper Ruud turned on the style at the French Open before the fourth seed showed steel to quell Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 and move into the third round on Thursday.
The Norwegian brought a touch of flair to Court Philippe Chatrier in classy blue pinstriped shorts and barely fluffed his lines early on, forcing an inexperienced Zeppieri into a corner by badgering him from the baseline.
Ruud’s performance on clay this year has ebbed and flowed but the Estoril champion made quick work of the first set under the Parisian sun after being gifted the decisive break when Zeppieri blasted a forehand long.
The world number four raced through the next set to double his advantage as the left-handed Zeppieri sprayed the errors in a nervy display before regaining composure to peg Ruud back.
“In a normal match I would have won 6-3, 6-2, but here you have the chance to fight like he did,” Ruud said on court.
“He played much better in the third set and the fourth set and it became very tough.”
Ruud’s superb court coverage ensured he broke for a 3-2 lead in the fourth set but Zeppieri struck back to level at 5-5 with a fiery inside-out winner, only to surrender serve immediately and allow Ruud to close out the victory.
Ruud, who lost to Rafa Nadal in the 2022 title clash, will next face Argentine qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante or China’s Zhizhen Zhang and the 24-year-old said he was looking forward to recharging his batteries.
“Days off are nice, obviously, you try to relax as much as you can, especially at night,” Ruud told reporters.
“I like to disconnect with a movie during the evening. I spend some hours in bed watching movies during Grand Slams. I think it’s nice and fun just to disconnect from everything.
“Whenever I get to the site and on the court, it’s all business.”
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