Roland Garros: who is Holger Rune, the 19-year-old player who eliminated Stefanos Tsitsipas in Paris

PARIS.- In recent months, it is Carlos Alcaraz who has monopolized all the stars as the star of the new generation. A notoriety that the Murcian, who has just turned 19, has more than deserved, with excellent results, until he rises to number 6 in the world. And in fact it stays on Roland Garros as one of the contenders for the crown, installed in the quarter-finals, stage which he will face this Tuesday afternoon against Alexander Zverev. But, to the surprise of many, Alcaraz won’t be the only Under-20s in the Roland-Garros top eight. Because this Monday, the Danes Holger Rune he also fought his way into the deciding stages, knocking out last year’s runner-up, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. His next opponent will be Norway’s Casper Ruud, seeded eighth, who knocked out plasterer Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Rune, 40th in the world rankings, had never won a Grand Slam match until last week, and came to Paris with two losses in his previous appearances in the four main tournaments on tour. But in the first round here, he knocked out Canadian Denis Shapovalov; then, he eliminated the Swiss Henri Laaksonen, and in the third stage he beat the Frenchman Hugo Gaston. In the round of 16, he made another big impact by beating the world number 4. And now, with Alcaraz, they become the first two Under-20s to reach the men’s quarter-finals together since Hendrik Dreekmann and Andrei Medvedev did so at the 1994 French Open nearly three years ago. decades.

19-year-old Holger Rune hadn’t even managed a Grand Slam first round before this Roland GarrosNurPhoto – NurPhoto

Rune, barely a week older than Alcaraz, is already experiencing some of the big steps in the tennis scene. Considered one of the great promises of tennis from an early age, he knows what to be Roland Garros champion… as a junior, a title he achieved in 2019at the age of 16 years. In fact, he finished No. 1 in the junior world that season, also won the Junior Masters and participated in several professional tournaments, having received dozens of special invitations, promoted by the sports management company IMG. At the Buenos Aires ATP, Recall, he played in 2021, when he lost to the Spaniard Albert Ramos Viñolas, and also debuted with a defeat this season in the brick dust of Buenos Aires, overtaken by Sebastián Báez. However, he improved his results and a few weeks ago he won his first ATP title, in Munich, coincidentally on the same day that Báez dedicated himself to Estoril.

best of the game

His Grand Slam main draw debut came at none other than Arthur Ashe, the US Open’s center court, after topping the leaderboard and facing in the first round with Novak Djokovic, before snatching a set from No. 1 and falling in four sets in front of 25,000 spectators. “I mean it was a great experience for me last year and I wouldn’t change that, but at the same time it’s not good to face the best in the first rounds; I prefer to meet them a little later”, he explained here at Roland Garros.

Reached 40th place with a big jump, as he was behind the 400th at the start of 2021. The title a few weeks ago in Munich, which included an excellent victory over Alexander Zverev, 3rd in the standings, meant a prize of 81,000 euros, in addition to a brand new BMW ..although the problem is that Rune doesn’t have a driver’s license yet. “I haven’t had time to take it off yet,” he explained, symbolizing the busy life that professional tennis players lead. “But, when I have free time, I promise to have it and drive the car,” he added immediately. His steps are closely followed by Aneke, his mother, who follows him everywhere, and Alma, his older sister. In fact, she was the first to start playing tennis in the family. But the one who ended up dedicating himself fully was Holger. Since his junior internship, he has been coached by Lars Christensen.

Best moment of his short career: Holger Rune, in the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros
Best moment of his short career: Holger Rune, in the quarter-finals of Roland-GarrosNurPhoto – NurPhoto

“I have an incredible feeling. I was very nervous at the end,” said Rune, who is playing her first French Open. “I was very nervous. I said to myself that I had to stick to my plan”, he admitted after a tense end. And it was that it was two sets to one, and with two service breaks, to go 5-2 in the fourth set. But Tsitsipas broke it at love, won nine points in a row and even had a chance to tie at 5, but Rune pulled himself together in time and got his big victory on the first match point, just as the clock passed three hours of play.

And, of course, comparisons arise with Alcaraz, a generation partner, and with whom he even shared a few junior doubles tournaments. But Rune is clear: “I think he deserves all the attention he gets. He did amazing things, like beating Djokovic, Rafa (Nadal). He deserves it, and he seems to be getting better with every step, so I don’t see that as a problem, he gets all the credit. As for me, I go at my own pace, in my own style, and try to improve in my own way, and I feel good. Everyone has their own way to go, and this is mine.

The rooms, complete

The key quarter-final ended overnight with the triumph of Marin Cilic. The Croatian, champion of the US Open 2014, easily beat the Russian Daniil Medvedev, world number 2, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. In search of the semi-finals, the world number 23 will face the Russian Andrey Rublev, winner of the Italian Jannik Sinner by 1-6, 6-4, 2-0 and abandonment through injury.

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