For both players, it was their first quarter-final appearance at Roland Garros while 19-year-old Rune became the first Dane to reach this Roland-Garros stage.
Rune had had a fairy tale run to the quarters, upsetting Denis Shapovalov in the first round and No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round, before finally falling to Ruud.
“A great day for Norwegian tennis because we also have a player Ulrikke Eikeri who made the mixed doubles final today. She is even a bit further than me!” Ruud said in his post-match on-pitch interview.
“These are the matches you dream of playing. And hopefully, of course, even the final if possible,” he continued. “I have to be really focused and bring my A-game to the semi-finals.”
The Norwegian started the match in impressive fashion, breaking Rune twice to open a 5-0 lead in the first set which he eventually won 6-1.
“I started well, but then Holger defended well, raised his level and I had a really tough game at the end there,” Ruud said afterwards.
The second set was more balanced as both players traded breaks early before Rune broke Ruud in the final game to tie the game.
But in the third set, Ruud seemed to have an answer to everything the Dane had tried; a perfect approach shot was met by Ruud’s outstretched backhand while a drop shot only dragged Ruud towards the net.
Throughout the match, Rune had been talking to his box, and when he was broken in the third set, he appeared to shout at his mother who ran off the court.
“I love my mum and I’m not sending her away,” Rune later told Eurosport. “When I’m frustrated it can help that my mum or coach leaves so I don’t have two people to refer to. She also left at some point against Stefanos [Tsitsipas] to relieve myself. She’s in control, not me.”
The set remained finely posed and required a tie-break to decide between the two players. Ruud took a 4-2 lead and didn’t drop another point to take the tiebreaker and the set 7-2.
Building on that, Ruud regained control as he won 94% of his first-serve points in the fourth and won 6-3, winning the game in three hours and 15 minutes.
The Norwegian will face a reborn Marin Cilic in the semi-finals on Friday.