Holger Rune has just beaten Denis Shapovalov, world number 15, in a straight set at the French Open 6-3, 6-1, 7-6. A pulsating start caused the young player to break his Canadian opponent calmly in the first two sets.
Only in the third set did he meet a lot of opposition, but when three breakpoints came up in game nine at the score 4-4, he did not need another invitation to get 5-4 ahead on serve.
But the opportunities were missed and Shapovalov broke back and then had points to take the set at 6-5. But Rune held strong and then ran into a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak before tying it down to 7-4.
It’s the first time in his career that he hits a top seed at a grand slam: the benchmark on which all rising stars of tennis are measured.
And it has come at the age of just 19, matching Clara Tauson’s accomplishments, four and a few months his senior, who knocked out world number six Anett Kontaveit at the Australian Open in January.
However, there are many in Danish tennis circles who have been sure that this day would come for many years. Since he was 11, in fact.
Voice of confidence from master
Frederik Løchte Nielsen, the recently retired 2012 Wimbledon men’s doubles champion, has never been in doubt that Rune “can go all the way”.
“When one is as good as he is and has such great prospects, it would be unambitious not to aim for grand slam titles,” he told DR ahead of the clash with Shapovalov.
“He’s already playing against the best, so once he gets even better, I think he has every chance of winning more grand slam triumphs.”
Clearly, he could excel since he was 11 years old
Nielsen first met Rune in 2014, when the couple was shown together on the front page of a Danish tennis training manual.
“I had no idea who he was. Or how good he was. But soon after, some of the Davis Cup players who shared a club with him began to tell me how insanely good he was in relation to his age,” he said. he.
“His game was already high class. In fact, he did not play junior tennis. I remember how he adapted small things from one day to the next, as if he were several years ahead of his development. “
Smart player, but is he strong enough
Today, Nielsen rates Rune as an extremely intelligent player who never looks overwhelmed by the apartment or the opponent: “He really looks like he belongs, it’s his natural habitat.”
However, he is not so sure that Rune can win a grand slam at the age of 19, as fitness will be a problem in matches that go the distance.
“The physical part is perhaps the biggest factor. It is a prerequisite that he can line up in a fifth and decisive set. After all, his playing style is physically demanding, ”he said.
“Still, he has extreme faith in himself. He denies any kind of mediocrity, and if he does something he himself is not happy with, he only returns stronger. He is also extremely ball-safe and can play at the highest pace. The better the opponent is, the better he plays himself. ”
12. in the bet to triumph as Roland Garros
Rune became the youngest Dane ever to play in the Davis Cup, which he achieved with a single victory against Egypt in 2018 only 14 years old.
Just a few weeks ago, he won his first ATP title: the BMW Open in Munich, which he won on May 1 – markedly on clay, the same surface as the French Open.
He is currently number 40 in the world and he is 12th in the bet on most bookmaker lists to win the title.
Source: The Nordic Page