HIGHLIGHTS: Tsitsipas takes out Coric to reach the final four.

Holger Rune vs. Casper Ruud

Once upon a time, we had Super Saturday at the US Open. Now we have Salty Saturday in Rome. Each men’s semifinal will feature a pair of players who have a bit of a history together.

Rune, from Denmark, and Ruud, from Norway, are the sport’s foremost Scantagonists. They got into it on and off court at Roland Garros last year, in a four-set quarterfinal that ended with Rune accusing Ruud of confronting him in the locker room afterward, and Ruud accusing Rune of making that story up. This will be their first match since that encounter, so tensions may be high. They often are from the Rune side of the court.

Personality conflicts aside, Ruud has owned Rune in their head-to-head so far. He’s dropped one set in their four matches, all of which have been on clay. But none of them happened in the last 12 months, a period when Rune has barreled into the Top 10, beaten Novak Djokovic twice, won four titles and nearly caught up to Ruud in the rankings. Ruud, meanwhile, was just 11-9 on the season before this week.

Ruud says he “needs to step up,” and that’s especially true now that he’ll be defending runner-up points in Paris in a week or so. But if it comes down to motivating factors, I’ll take Rune’s desire to get his first win in this potentially long-term rivalry. Winner: Rune


Rune and Ruud haven't exactly seen eye to eye since meeting in last year's Roland Garros quarterfinals.

Rune and Ruud haven't exactly seen eye to eye since meeting in last year's Roland Garros quarterfinals.

Daniil Medvedev vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas

The antagonism between Medvedev and Tsitsipas goes back farther, to their shouting match in their very first meeting, in Miami in 2018. Five years later, there’s much more water under the bridge between these two, but they still have a knack for getting under skins of opponents and each other.

Medvedev leads their head-to-head 7-4, but Tsitsipas has slowly been gaining ground. The Russian won their first five meetings, while Tsitsipas has won four of the last six, including two straight three-setters in 2022. That, in particular, must be something that gets under Medvedev’s skin. Now that he has his A-game again in 2023, he’s going to want to put an end to that streak immediately. Can he get it done on clay?

They’re 1-1 on this surface, but Tsitsipas likes it more. Which, if you like salt with your tennis, is probably a good thing. If Medvedev falls behind, there could be a lot of it in Campo Centrale before the day is over. Winner: Tsitsipas