Paris Masters: Rune reaches semifinal after Alcaraz’s retirement

Holger Rune advanced to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 semifinal on Friday at the Paris Masters after Carlos Alcaraz was forced to retire deep into the pair’s quarter-final clash, here.

After charging to the opening set, Rune held firm to force a tie-break as World No.1 Alcaraz stepped up his level in the second. Having had treatment on an abdominal muscle at 6-5, however, Alcaraz was forced to retire with Rune leading 3/1 in the second-set tie-break at 6-3, 6-6.

“I thought it was a great match. [It’s] unlucky for him. I think we both played very well and I was super focused. It was an amazing crowd, amazing tennis, so I’m super pleased with how I handled everything today,” said Rune.

Prior to Alcaraz’s injury, Stockholm champion Rune had given another demonstration of the recent strides he has made with his game. He rode a fast start to claim the opening set in his first match against fellow 19-year-old Alcaraz since the Spaniard prevailed in straight sets at the 2021 Next Gen ATP Finals.

When Alcaraz raised his level in a keenly-fought second, Rune fended off two break points at 3-4 en route to the tie-break.

“Carlos is, if not the best, one of the best return players in the world. Of course, he is No.1, so he is obviously the best in the world right now, but I’m super happy with how I handled all the things under pressure and how I handled my return game. I tried to play as aggressively as possible. Sometimes I missed a few shots but it was all worth it because, in the end, I was very good at important moments,” said Rune.

Rune, who has won 17 of his past 19 matches, now holds a 37-24 tour-level record for 2022. He is one win from a fourth straight ATP Tour final, having also reached the championship match in Sofia (lost to Huesler), Stockholm (defeated Tsitsipas) and Basel (lost to Auger-Aliassime). The Dane’s hot streak has strengthened his position as one of the favourites for next week’s Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Now into his maiden ATP Masters 1000 semifinal, Rune will next take on Felix Auger-Aliassime in a battle between two of the ATP Tour’s most in-form players. The eighth-seed earlier downed Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-4 for his 16th consecutive win, and Rune will seek to avenge his defeat to the Canadian in Basel just five days ago.

“Hopefully, tomorrow is going to be different. I know what happened last week and I can take a lot from that and learn from it, and do a lot different tomorrow. I’m super pumped and super excited for what is going to happen,” said Rune.

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