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No Nordic love lost between Danish and Norwegian tennis rivals

Precious little Scandinavian kinship was on show during a feisty meeting between Norway and Denmark’s leading male tennis players at the French Open.

Denmark's Holger Rune gestures after a point against Norway's Casper Ruud
Denmark's Holger Rune gestures after a point against Norway's Casper Ruud during their men's quarter-final at the French Open. Photo: Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Danish tennis star Holger Rune was told to “grow up” by Norway’s Casper Ruud, while the Norwegian was advised to “show some respect” after the two Scandinavians fought out a tense French Open quarter-final.

World number eight Ruud became the first Norwegian man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final when he defeated Rune 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 in a tie which ended just before 1am on Thursday.

Rune took out his frustrations on the court, repeatedly grimacing and shouting at himself and the umpire as tensions mounted between the two players.

At one point, Rune yelled “leave, leave, leave” at the player’s box, after which his mother Aneke slipped out.

Following the match, the 19-year-old Dane said Ruud was “so unsportsmanlike during the match and talked to me over and over again”.

“I didn’t want to give him a hug after the match. He got a high-five and then I just had to get away from him”, Rune told Danish daily Ekstra Bladet, as images showed Ruud shaking his head at the net.

Rune said Ruud then taunted him in the locker room after the match.

“He just went straight up to me and shouted ‘Yeeeessss!’ right up in my face”, Rune said.

“You can cheer on the court all you want and be happy. I do that myself when I win. But that’s such bad style. Have some respect”, he added.

Ruud’s father and coach Christian dismissed the locker room claim as a “pure lie”.

And Ruud himself criticised Rune’s behaviour on the court and said he needed to “grow up”.

“I don’t know Holger personally, but I have seen on TV that sometimes there can be a lot of drama. He’s young and new, so that’s excusable, but when you’re on a big stage, it might be time to grow up a bit”, the 23-year-old Ruud told Norwegian daily VG.

Rune, who had knocked out world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round to become the first Danish man to reach the last-eight in Paris, appeared to address the criticism in an Instagram post on Thursday.

“I put a lot of passion in my work because that’s how I am. I am proud of my development and I also see there are things yet to be better.”

In the quarter-final “I didn’t find my level and it’s frustrating. Still, I should be able to find a way to win and this requires more emotional control. I am aware of this and will improve.”

Ruud will meet 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic for a place in Sunday’s final.

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POLITICS

Why is Norway’s football manager calling for people to vote against the government?

Norway's football manager, Stale Solbakken, has courted controversy by suggesting that people vote for a change in government ahead of the next election. Here's why.

Why is Norway's football manager calling for people to vote against the government?
Norway's manager Stale Solbakken. Photo by Jorge Guererro / AFP

Norway coach Stale Solbakken has caused controversy in the country by calling for people to vote against the government in the upcoming parliamentary elections over the strictness of its coronavirus rules.

Solbakken was angry that the 28,000-capacity Ullevaal Stadion could only be a quarter-full for Norway’s 1-1 draw with the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.

The stadiums capacity was capped due to the Covid rules in Norway having limits on the numbers attending big events, even when the use of a vaccine certificate is in place. 

His team, who visit Latvia on Saturday and host Gibraltar next week, are also in the same qualifying group as Turkey. The nation goes to the polls on September 13.

“Today we played in front of 7,000 spectators who were fantastic but it could have been surreal here today,” he said after the game. “We will play in a ‘cathedral’ in Amsterdam in front of 60,000 people and in a stadium filled to the brim in Istanbul.

“I don’t want to waste time on this subject but it must be said: ‘We can do nothing other than vote in the legislative elections’.”

When asked by a journalist if he was hoping for a change of government, Solbakken said: “That is completely correct.”

The incumbent right-wing government is currently trailing the ‘red-green’ opposition in all opinion polls.

On Thursday, Minister of Health Bent Hoie told newspaper Verdens Gang he was “surprised and disappointed” by Solbakken’s remarks.

The government also announced an increase in the amount of spectators allowed to attend outdoor events, with 10,000 the new limit.

Former Wolves and FC Copenhagen coach Solbakken took charge of the Norwegian national team last December and was immediately fined for breaking quarantine rules.

Norway sit fourth in European qualifying Group G, but only one point behind leaders Turkey.

This isn’t the first time that politics and the national team have overlapped. Earlier this year Norway’s football association held a summit to decide whether it would boycott the 2022 Qatar World Cup over allegations of human rights abuses in the country. 

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