Ruud ends Zhang's history-making run at Roland Garros

PARIS, June 3 (Xinhua) -- World No. 71 Zhang Zhizhen of China was defeated by fourth seed Casper Ruud of Norway 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the third round of the French Open, failing to continue his run at the clay major which saw him reach a milestone for his country.

Zhang Zhizhen serves during his men's singles third round defeat against Casper Ruud at the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France on June 3, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)

Thanks to a withdrawal of Serbia's Dusan Lajovic in the first round and a straight-set victory over Argentina's Thiago Agustin Tirante in the next, 26-year-old Zhang became the first men's singles player from the Chinese mainland to play in the round of 32 at Roland Garros in the Open era.

"It was my fourth time to play against a Top-10 player. I felt that I have improved through each game," said Zhang, who surged into the quarterfinals at the Madrid Open before coming to Paris, registering a victory over world No. 8 Taylor Fritz to reach that stage.

"The first time was against Dominic Thiem in Beijing many years ago, when I had no chance in the whole match. The second time with Andrey Rublev was the same. And then Fritz, now this time, I feel I can fight back in some certain period during the matches," Zhang added.

Shanghai-born Zhang went into the match strongly as he broke Ruud's first serve to take the upper hand in the first set before winning 6-4.

"It was tough. It was a bit frustrating in the beginning. I didn't hit as well as I would have hoped," Ruud admitted.

Zhang had the chance to earn himself an early break in the second when he soared to a 40-0 lead in the third game, but Ruud recovered to win five points in a row to defend his serve, which turned to be a turning point in the match.

"I did well in the first set, actually not bad in the second. But I squandered the chances, didn't break in the third game, maybe from that point he started to gain confidence and I hardly got chance to break again," Zhang commented.

Ruud improved his level as the match went on, breaking Zhang's serve in the 10th game to level the score.

"I didn't really find any hole in his game, but luckily at 5-4 in the second set, he played some sloppy shots and I got the break. That gave me confidence and I started playing better and better in the third and fourth [sets]. The French crowd was helping me a lot," said Ruud, adding that the supporters on Court Suzanne-Lenglen had brought him some extra energy.

Next up for Ruud will be Geneva Open champion Nicolas Jarry after the 27-year-old Chilean saw off Marcos Giron of the United States 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3 to advance to the fourth round of the French Open for the first time.

World No. 1 and defending champion Iga Swiatek eased through to the women's singles last-16 as the Pole swept China's Wang Xinyu 6-0, 6-0.

Earlier on Saturday, women's No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina, who was due to face Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo in the third round, has announced her withdrawal from the tournament, saying she is "far from being 100 per cent".