Casper Ruud and Holger Rune are closing in on a French Open rematch after both reached the fourth round on Saturday.
The pair contested a heated late-night quarter-final 12 months ago, with Ruud triumphing in four sets before Rune accused him of a “lack of class” for celebrating in his face, something the Norwegian denied.
They have played once since, in Rome a couple of weeks ago, when Rune gained some revenge, and will be favoured to clash in the last eight once again.
Ruud went on to reach his first Grand Slam final in Paris last year and then repeated the feat at the US Open, although he came out on the losing side both times.
This season has been a struggle by contrast but there are signs the 24-year-old is starting to find his form and he recovered from a set down to beat China’s Zhang Zhizhen 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-4.
“My level is getting better,” said Ruud. “I still feel like there are things I can improve and I can make less errors than I have done in some moments in my matches.
“So I still feel like there is a level that I haven’t played yet that I can bring out, and I will need to bring out now going into the second week, for sure.
“I’m very happy with being through the first three matches. It’s tough. For me this year it’s been much more pressure, obviously, compared to last year.”
Last year’s tournament was Rune’s breakthrough, and the young Dane has maintained his momentum, breaking into the top 10 and twice beating Novak Djokovic.
The 20-year-old is particularly strong on clay and he swatted aside Argentinian qualifier Genaro Alberto Olivieri 6-4 6-1 6-3.
Rune has only had to play two matches so far having been given a walkover by Gael Monfils in the second round.
“Luckily I haven’t used too much unnecessary energy during the tournament so far,” he said. “I’m in the fourth round and I can play better, so it’s a good thing. But obviously the matches are going to get harder and harder from now so I have to step up also.”
Next he faces Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo, who is through to the fourth round of a Slam for the first time after upsetting eighth seed Taylor Fritz 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-5.
American Fritz was booed on to court after his shushing of the crowd on Thursday night but that had turned to cheers by the time he walked off.
Cerundolo was joined in the last 16 by countryman Tomas Etcheverry, who knocked out 15th seed Borna Coric 6-3 7-6 (5) 6-2, while 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka ended the run of Daniil Medvedev’s conqueror Thiago Seyboth Wild in a five-set tussle.