Ruud, the son of the former pro Christian Ruud, became the first Norwegian to win an ATP title in February at the Argentina Open, on clay. In the run-up to the French Open, he reached the semifinals at two clay-court tournaments.
Ruud, 21, is a natural clay-court player, using his consistency to exhaust and induce errors from his opponents. In the second round, he outlasted Tommy Paul in five sets.
Thiem, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, has admitted that having his first Grand Slam title allowed him to relax in preparation for the French Open. He has looked comfortable, not dropping a set through the first two rounds against Marin Cilic and Jack Sock, both big servers who can cause plenty of problems for their opponents.
Thiem’s consistency and heavy ball striking will put Ruud under pressure early and often, and it’s unlikely that Ruud will be able to push into his first Grand Slam Round of 16, but there are plenty of promising signs for his future.
Court 7 | 6:30 a.m.
Sebastian Korda vs. Pedro Martínez Portero
Korda, the son of the former tennis pro Petr Korda, has just begun to announce himself on the ATP Tour. After receiving a wild card into the U.S. Open, he lost to Denis Shapovalov in four sets. Now, he has secured his first two victories at a Grand Slam event. With his game and a long frame that allows for powerful serves and good baseline court coverage, Korda, 20, seems as if he would be better suited on hardcourts. This week’s run shows that he has the potential to perform well on every surface and be a mainstay of American men’s tennis.
Just like Korda, Martínez Portero played through the qualifiers to make it into the main draw at the French Open and reached his first major third-round match. Martínez Portero has had a breakthrough year, reaching the second round of the Australian Open and appearing in the main draw at the U.S. Open for the first time. His best performances on the lower circuits of the professional tour have all come on clay, with eight Futures titles and one Challenger win to his name.