Sports, Tennis

Ruud lives to fight

Published : 18 Jan 2024 09:46 PM

Three-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud admitted Thursday he was lucky to still be in the Australian Open after being pushed to five sets in a gripping third-round clash.

The 11th seed was taken to the edge by Australian Max Purcell, who had never been beyond the second round of a major before but was lifted by the boisterous home fans.

Ruud, the top-ranked Norwegian in history after reaching a career-high two by making the 2022 US Open final, finally ground him down 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (10/7) after nearly four hours of intense tennis.

The Australian world number 45 is one of the few players still relying on serve-and-volley and he repeatedly attacked the net to push himself to the brink of a stunning upset.

Meanwhile, world number two Carlos Alcaraz dropped a set Thursday before rediscovering his mojo to battle into the Australian Open third round, coming good when it mattered.

The 20-year-old Spaniard was put through his paces by Italy's Lorenzo Sonego before prevailing 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) on Rod Laver Arena.

Two-time major champion and second seed Alcaraz will meet either Indian qualifier Sunmit Nagal or Chinese wildcard Shang Juncheng next as he ramps up his drive towards a maiden title in Melbourne.

Alcaraz took time to find his rhythm against Sonego but pounced in game seven, triggering a baseline error from the Italian to earn a break before closing out the first set.