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Sudden Impact: Bellucci's Back-To-Back Challenger Titles

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2022

Sudden Impact: Bellucci’s Back-To-Back Challenger Titles

The #NextGenATP youngster won the Saint-Tropez and Vilnius Challengers in October

When Italian Mattia Bellucci earned his first Pepperstone ATP Rankings points in 2018, the youngster relished seeing his name amongst the stars he watched on TV, such as his idol, Rafael Nadal.

This season, the 21-year-old added his name to a new list. Bellucci advanced through qualifying en route to capturing his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title at the Saint-Tropez Challenger in October. He didn’t stop there.

At the Vilnius Challenger, the lefty dropped just one set all week en route to claiming back-to-back titles. Winning 12 straight matches was a welcome sight to Bellucci.

“I remember playing my first Futures in 2017 or 2018 and I got my first two [ranking] points and it felt amazing,” Bellucci said. “Being in the same rankings as my idols, even if I was like 1,000 something, it felt special.

ATP Challenger Tour 

“I started this season [2022] around 680 in the rankings. I was playing only Futures events, it was a good start. At the beginning of the season, I was also a bit stressed because of how it would go with my new coach [Fabio Chiappini]. I’m super, super happy with the level I’ve played at.”

After claiming five ITF Futures titles in the first half of the year, Bellucci transitioned to the Challenger Tour and found quick success. The title in Saint-Tropez, France was Bellucci’s eighth Challenger event.

Bellucci is one of seven Italian #NextGenATP youngsters who have claimed a Challenger title in 2022: Matteo Arnaldi, Flavio Cobolli, Francesco Maestrelli, Lorenzo Musetti, Luca Nardi, and Francesco Passaro have also triumphed this season. Bellucci and Nardi, who has three Challenger titles this year, are the only Italian #NextGenATP players to score multiple Challenger titles in 2022.

“When I won the tournament in Saint-Tropez, I felt super, super tired,” Bellucci said. “I had to travel the same day to home and the day after to Vilnius. I said, ‘Okay it could be a first round [loss]’. Because when you win a tournament playing seven matches with such a good level and then going indoors, and without practising indoors once before the tournament. I was super stressed because I was coming from a win and I said, ‘Okay, let’s see how it goes!’”

“To double up in Vilnius was super special. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t even playing Challengers. When I won, I said to myself, ‘Now, something changes!’”

<a href=''>Mattia Bellucci</a> poses with the ballkids at the 2022 Saint-Tropez Challenger.
Mattia Bellucci poses with the ballkids at the 2022 Saint-Tropez Challenger. Credit: Alexander Hergott

Bellucci became the youngest Italian to win Challenger titles in back-to-back weeks since 19-year-old Stefano Pescosolido in 1991. Hailing from a country rich in tennis history, Bellucci hopes to combine with the other Italian youngsters to continue the country’s long success.

With three Italians in the Top 25 (Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner, Musetti) of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Bellucci looks to follow a similar path as his close friend, Musetti, to climb up the rankings.

“We are simulating each other,” Bellucci said. “I know Musetti really well. We played the same tournaments when we were younger, but he was way better than me so he went up first.

“I’m like, ‘Okay, if we had the same past, playing the same tournaments when we were younger, then why not [me]?’ We [Italy] have a lot of younger players, ages 20-22 who play at a really high level.”

<a href=''>Mattia Bellucci</a> in action at the 2022 Vilnius Challenger.
Mattia Bellucci in action at the 2022 Vilnius Challenger. Credit: Saulius Čirba

Born and raised in Busto Arsizio, which is near Milan, Bellucci started playing tennis at four-years-old with his father, who coached at a local club. His father, Fabrizio, coached him until the start of the 2022 season, when Mattia started working with Fabio Chiappini. Both coaches have played a key role in developing Mattia into the player he is today.

“I think I’m a good server for the height I have,” Bellucci said. “I always love to variate, starting with the slice, being aggressive, especially on hard courts. My groundstrokes are at a different height. My backhand is super flat and my forehand has a lot of spin.”

Boasting a 15-9 Challenger-match record in 2022, Bellucci is set to close out his season at the Helsinki and Andria Challengers before embarking on chasing his goal for the 2023 season: cracking the Top 100.

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Milan Day 1 Preview: Home Hope Musetti Seeks Strong Start Vs. Tseng

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2022

Milan Day 1 Preview: Home Hope Musetti Seeks Strong Start Vs. Tseng

Draper and Stricker in lefty battle, Nakashima meets Arnaldi

A quartet of first-time ATP Head2Head meetings kick off the 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals on Tuesday, when all eight competitors at the 21-and-under season finale will seek a fast start at the Allianz Cloud in Milan.

View Schedule | View Draw

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[2] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) vs. [6] Chun-Hsin Tseng (TPE)

The highest-ranked player in the event, World No. 23 Lorenzo Musetti will take to court for his Red Group battle against Chun-Hsin Tseng in confident mood following an impressive run of late-season form on European hard courts.

The 20-year-old won his second Tour title in Naples in October and took out Casper Ruud en route to the quarter-finals in Paris last week. He also has experience with the event’s innovative first-to-four-games, best-of-five-sets format, having gone 1-2 in the round-robin stage in 2021.

As Musetti was making his Milan debut last November, Chun-Hsin Tseng was well outside the Top 200 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The 21-year-old from Chinese Taipei has made great strides since, surging to a career-high No. 83 in August off the back of some strong performances on the ATP Challenger Tour. Can Tseng upset one of the pre-tournament favourites on opening day?

[3] Jack Draper (GBR) vs. [7] Dominic Stricker (SUI)

A hard-hitting lefty battle rounds out the Day 1 schedule in Milan as Briton Jack Draper tests himself against Dominic Stricker. The 20-year-old Draper has enjoyed a rapid rise this season, with winning four Challenger Tour titles and reaching a maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final in Montreal among the highlights.

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World No. 41 Draper sits 70 places higher than Stricker in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but he will be aware of his Red Group opponent’s history of going toe-to-toe with the best. The 20-year-old Swiss Stricker defeated former World No. 3 Marin Cilic on his ATP Tour debut in 2021 and has beaten four Top 40 opponents in 2022 alone.

[4] Brandon Nakashima (USA) vs. [9] Matteo Arnaldi (ITA)

Like Musetti, 2021 semi-finalist Brandon Nakashima is returning to play in Milan for the second time. Unlike Musetti, the American will not enjoy vociferous home support when he returns to compete at the Allianz Cloud, where local fans will be hoping Nakashima’s opening-match opponent Matteo Arnaldi can spring an early upset.

Fourth seed Nakashima knows all about the impact of a supportive crowd — he lifted his maiden ATP Tour title in his hometown of San Diego in September — and Arnaldi arrives for this Green Group clash with some promising recent Challenger Tour showings in the bank. They include a run to the final in San Tropez in mid-October, but can the Italian make his mark in this battle of 21-year-olds?

[5] Jiri Lehecka (CZE) vs. [8] Francesco Passaro (ITA)

Francesco Passaro began the 2022 season outside the Top 600 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but on Tuesday he will fly the flag for the home nation in the opening match at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. The 21-year-old has already shown he can handle the pressure of performing on home soil. He won his maiden Challenger Tour title in Trieste in July and registered his maiden tour-level win in Florence in October.

His first opponent in Green Group, Jiri Lehecka, knows a thing or two about meteoric rises himself. The fifth-seeded Czech reached the semi-finals as a qualifier in Rotterdam in February, having never previously won a tour-level match.

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Official 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals Group Photo Revealed

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2022

Official 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals Group Photo Revealed

Action begins Tuesday at the Allianz Cloud

Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals begins Tuesday in Milan. But first, the 21-and-under stars took a walk outside the Allianz Cloud for this year’s official group photo.

As the seasons change in Milan, the players posed in front of a resplendent stretch of leaves a block away from the tournament venue.

From left to right, the players competing in this year’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals are Francesco Passaro, Chun-Hsin Tseng, Brandon Nakashima, Lorenzo Musetti, Jack Draper, Jiri Lehecka, Dominic Stricker and Matteo Arnaldi.

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Scouting Report: Musetti, Draper, Nakashima Lead Milan Field

Green Group consists of Nakashima, Lehecka, Passaro and Arnaldi, while Red Group features Musetti, Draper, Tseng and Stricker.

Six of the eight competitors are tournament debutants, with the exception of home favourite Musetti and 2021 semi-finalist Nakashima. The tournament runs 8-12 November.

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They Are Next: Draper & Stricker Chill & Cool In Milan

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2022

They Are Next: Draper & Stricker Chill & Cool In Milan

Briton and Swiss will compete in Red Group at 21-and-under event

#NextGenATP stars Jack Draper and Dominic Stricker have been practising hard in Milan as they prepare to make their debuts at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

The Briton and Swiss lefty will both compete in Red Group at the 21-and-under event. However, before the action starts, the pair got to know each other at the weekend when they shared jokes while walking the streets of Milan.

“I am a cool guy,” Stricker told Draper when describing his personality. “In my free time I like to play games with my family and video games.”

“I would say I am a pretty chilled guy,” Draper replied. “Tennis is a big part of my life, but I like to be home and be with my family and friends. I like to chill and do normal things and be a normal 20-year-old.”

<a href=''>Dominic Stricker</a>/<a href=''>Jack Draper</a>

Draper will play Stricker in his opening match on Tuesday night. Both players feel they have what it takes to lift the trophy in Milan at the fifth edition of the event.

“I think I can win because I am playing good tennis,” the 20-year-old Draper told Stricker. “I feel I am in good shape. I know everybody here is a very good player but I think I can compete well and hopefully win the tournament.”

“I think the same,” the 20-year-old Stricker replied. “I am in good shape. I have played well in the past few tournaments and I am feeling good. But everyone here has had a great season. But I am just happy to be here and I hope I can utilise my strengths.”

<a href=''>Jack Draper</a> and <a href=''>Dominic Stricker</a>

In a breakthrough season, Draper earned wins against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime, while Stricker defeated Top 40 players Maxime Cressy and Botic van de Zandschulp. Both players are targeting further scalps in 2023.

“I would say the next player on my to beat list is Rafa [Nadal] on clay,” Stricker said. “It is a tough one but I think it is something everyone would like to do.”

“Cam Norrie for me,” Draper said. “He has had me twice when I have played him. I would like to play him again and beat him for sure because he has bragging rights over me at the moment.”

For now, their focus will remain on Milan. Lorenzo Musetti and Chun-Hsin Tseng will also compete in Red Group alongside Draper and Stricker, with Brandon Nakashima, Jiri Lehecka, Francesco Passaro and Matteo Arnaldi in Green Group.

Photo Credits: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

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Lehecka Raring To Go In Milan Following 2021 Heartbreak

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2022

Lehecka Raring To Go In Milan Following 2021 Heartbreak

Czech won an ATP Challenger Tour crown in August

For Jiri Lehecka, sporting success runs in the family. His father was a swimmer and his mother was a track and field star. While the Czech has long enjoyed skiing, swimming and running, tennis was always his first passion. Lehecka struck his first shots at three years old with his grandmother, who competed in tennis at a national level, before he turned professional in 2020.

Now the 20-year-old is No. 74 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and is ready to make his mark in the game after enjoying a breakthrough season on the ATP Tour that started in Rotterdam in February.

“For me, [Rotterdam] was an unbelievable week because I started the year pretty fine,” Lehecka told “I qualified in Australia. I lost in the first round in four sets, so the season was starting pretty well for me. Then I had two or three weeks where I didn’t play good tennis. I played bad and didn’t feel good on court. Then my coach joined me at Rotterdam. We did some improvements and hard work and in Rotterdam it was an unbelievable week. A little surprising, but I was enjoying every moment there.”

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In a confidence-boosting week, Lehecka came through qualifying at the ATP 500 event before he earned his maiden tour-level win against Denis Shapovalov in the first round. He then defeated Botic van de Zandschulp and Lorenzo Musetti before Stefanos Tsitsipas halted his run in the semi-finals.

“In qualifying I beat two good players. If you are playing qualifying at ATP Tour event it is not easy,” Lehecka said. “I beat Corentin Moutet in the final qualifying round. For me, the win against Lorenzo Musetti was the best. It was the win that got me into the Top 100. So all the matches were unbelievable for me and great experiences, but this match for me would be the top one. After I won I did not know I was in the Top 100, but the guy on the post-match interview said to me, ‘Congrats, this match you achieved Top 100’ and I was like ‘Wow, when? Unbelievable’.”

Having earned his place in the Top 100, Lehecka gained entry opportunities into more tour-level events. However, the 20-year-old, who also enjoys playing video games and hiking in the mountains, struggled to achieve his desired results in the weeks following Rotterdam.

Lehecka believes that was to be expected, though, as he adjusted to the increased demands the ATP Tour put on him.

“I am 20 years old so when I got into the Top 100 it had been an unbelievable thing,” said Lehecka. “I didn’t play my best tennis post-Rotterdam. I need to say that honestly, but it was mostly the experience for me. I was enjoying big tournaments for the first time in my life. I played qualifying in Monte Carlo, I won. I got into the main draw. A lot of these were first-time experiences and I was trying to get used to the level. I was trying to get used to all the stuff of being in the Top 100 and then I was trying to feel my game better and better.

“The guys on the ATP Tour, most are crazy experienced and they are so clever on the court. They are so consistent. They don’t give you many chances to build on, so it is very tough to play against them not with the tennis part but the mental part.”

It did not take long for Lehecka to regain his best level, though, with the Czech capturing an ATP Challenger Tour title on home soil in Liberec in August. Having grown up just 30 minutes from the town, the victory meant a lot to him.

“Liberec was a city I was playing when I was younger. I enjoyed it a lot there because there are a lot of people I know there,” Lehecka said. “It is 30 minutes away from my home in the car, so it is very convenient to play there. The fans were just unbelievable. The way they supported me the whole tournament and especially the semi-final and final was something unbelievable and I am so glad I got this experience to play there in front of my home crowd.

“I am so happy that in the Czech Republic we have five or six tournaments on the Challenger Tour and we are able to play there if we want some matches or if we want a home crowd. The Challenger Tour is very important part of everyone’s journey. I won my first Challenger last year in Finland. Winning my first Challenger title was one of the most important moments of my life. It is very important part of tennis.”

Having had his eyes set on competing at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals since the start of the season, Lehecka arrives in Milan determined to finish his breakthrough year strongly after missing out on qualifying in 2021.

“Last year I ended as the first alternate for the Next Gen Finals, so I chose to play another tournament instead of being an alternate, so that was a little bit unlucky,” Lehecka said. “When you have the chance to play the Next Gen Finals it means you had a good year, you gained some points which got you there. When I started my season in Australia this was for sure one of my big plans and dreams to qualify for this tournament.”

Lehecka has fond memories of watching the event, having seen Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz soar to the title in Milan. The 20-year-old is hoping to follow in their footsteps and continue his journey to the top.

“I saw [the event] many times. I watched it from the beginning. Watching how the young guns are doing and playing,” Lehecka said. “For me, it is one of the greatest tournaments and it looks very nice. I am looking forward to it. Of course I will do everything I can to have my best results over there.

“For me to have a chance to be in this kind of position, Top 60, play Next Gen Finals is a big motivation for me. It shows me where I can be when I am 20, 21 years old. It gives me big motivation for the future. I am saying to myself, ‘Here I am now’ and I am really happy and curious to see where I will be when I am 25 or 26.”

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Back Again: Nakashima Ready To Roar In Milan

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2022

Back Again: Nakashima Ready To Roar In Milan

American reached the semi-finals at the 21-and-under event last year

Last season, Brandon Nakashima made his mark at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. The 21-year-old earned round-robin stage victories against Juan Manuel Cerundolo and Holger Rune before he lost to Sebastian Korda in a five-set semi-final thriller.

Twelve months on and the American is excited to be back in Milan where he is aiming to take the next step and triumph at the 21-and-under event.

“I had such great memories in Milan last year,” Nakashima told “I think the ATP and the tournament director do such a great job there. The atmosphere with the fans and everything is super nice, super cool. It’s always nice to just play a fun, competitive tournament with people your age. I think it’s going to be another great tournament this year.

“Last year I played Korda and that match was super exciting, [against a] fellow American. I think all these [young] guys have such great games and such unique games that bring different aspects to tennis that makes it so cool.”

After gaining a taste for Milan and the vocal Italian fans last year, Nakashima was determined to qualify again in 2022, making it a priority at the start of the season.

“All the young players coming up, being able to qualify for the Next Gen Finals means that you had such a great year and produced some good results,” Nakashima said. “I think qualifying for that is such a good achievement, especially for young players, to be able to get that exposure at a young age, playing such a high-level tournament is very important.

“The Italian fans are super cool, they are super electric out there. Playing in an indoor stadium with a full crowd is something super special and they really support all the young players out there. I think it’s really cool to see that.”

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time

Nakashima entered 2022 off the back of a strong second half to the 2021 season. The American reached two ATP Tour finals (Los Cabos, Atlanta) last July and by November climbed to No. 62 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The 21-year-old, who enjoys playing golf and watching football, has continued to build this year, winning his maiden tour-level title in San Diego. Nakashima is proud of how he has handled his second season on Tour.

“I’m very happy with my performance this year,” Nakashima said. “For me, looking at the wins or loss columns doesn’t matter too much. It’s a matter of developing my game and trying to keep improving every day. Coming to these big tournaments and having these experiences is only going to further my experience and make me more confident out here.

“I was always expecting it was going to be a tough year. [The] second year on Tour, a lot of people get familiar with you, with your game a little bit more. You’re not such a surprise to many people as you were your first year. I think I’ve handled it pretty well with the expectations and everything. I try not to think about it too much on my side, just focus on what I can do out there.”

Alongside his title triumph in San Diego, Nakashima performed well at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. He pushed Alexander Zverev hard in the third round in Paris, before he reached the fourth round on the lawns in London.

“That match [against Zverev], I definitely gained a lot of confidence from,” Nakashima said. “Leading up to Roland Garros, I wasn’t winning too many matches on clay and then winning the first few rounds of Roland Garros was super big for my game and confidence. Having that great match with Zverev in the third round, I definitely took a lot from that match, learned a lot. I think it definitely helped me for the next couple weeks.

“I kind of always knew that my game was good for grass. A lot of my coaches always said I could do really well on grass. Leading up to Wimbledon, I had some good matches, good practices, and Wimbledon was such a great experience. It was such a great run for me that I definitely took a lot of confidence from it.”

Holding a 30-22 tour-level record on the season, Nakashima will look to use his experience and become the fifth champion at the 21-and-under event.

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Scouting Report: Musetti, Draper, Nakashima Lead Milan Field

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2022

Scouting Report: Musetti, Draper, Nakashima Lead Milan Field

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week

The 2022 season reaches its crescendo this week for eight of the ATP Tour’s brightest 21-and-under talents, who head to the Allianz Cloud in Milan to compete in the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

Lorenzo Musetti, Jack Draper and Brandon Nakashima headline the field in Italy from 8-12 November at an event renowned for its unique format and pioneering innovations.

As the action kicks off with a round-robin stage consisting of two group of four, looks ahead at five things to watch from the 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

View Draw | View Schedule

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time


1) Innovation Station: As it has done since the inaugural edition five years ago, the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals will once again introduce new innovations and rules for 2022. While the pioneering match format of best-of-five first-to-four-games sets remains, many of this year’s changes are designed to enhance the flow of the game.

They include a quicker shot clock, with the time in-between points shortened to 15 seconds (from the standard 25 seconds) if the server hits an ace, a double fault or if the returner misses the return through forced or unforced error. Other rule additions include a reduction to just one sit-down per set and three-minute warm-ups, while the TennisViz system, in partnership with Tennis Data Innovations, will provide match analysis information directly to coaches for them to use during a match.

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Innovations, Rules Revealed For 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals

2) Musetti Leads Italian Trio: For the first time in event history, three Italians will compete on home soil at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. Second seed Lorenzo Musetti spearheads the home charge in Milan, where the Hamburg and Naples champion will be competing for the second consecutive year.

Francesco Passaro and Matteo Arnaldi join the 20-year-old Musetti in attempting to become the second Italian champion in Milan after Jannik Sinner in 2019. Musetti competes in Red Group, while 21-year-olds Passaro and Arnaldi line up in Green Group.

3) Draper Seeks Big Showing: Third seed Jack Draper joins Musetti in a heavyweight Red Group. The 20-year-old Briton started the year at No. 265 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but he has surged to a career-high No. 41 after a breakout season in which he has notched a 17-12 tour-level record and lifted four ATP Challenger Tour titles.

Draper will be the first Briton to compete in Milan in event history and he opens his campaign on Tuesday by going head-to-head with a fellow big-hitting lefty, Switzerland’s Dominic Stricker.

4) 2021 Semi-Finalist Nakashima Headlines Green Group: Like Musetti, Brandon Nakashima will be appearing in Milan for the second year in a row. The American was impressive on tournament debut in 2021, defeating Juan Manuel Cerundolo and Holger Rune en route to the semi-finals.

Nakashima has continued his progress in the 2022 season, highlighted by lifting his maiden ATP Tour title in his hometown of San Diego in September. Passaro and Arnaldi will look to channel home support to hamper the fourth-seeded American’s chances of progressing from Green Group, however, as will Czech Jiri Lehecka. The 20-year-old Rotterdam semi-finalist reached a career-high World No. 59 in August.

5) Can Tseng Make His Mark?: Joining Musetti, Draper and Stricker in Red Group is Chun-Tsin Tseng. The 21-year-old from Chinese Taipei, junior champion at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2018, won two Challenger Tour titles this season and will be feeling confident as he seeks an opening upset against Musetti on Tuesday. Tseng is the first Asian player to compete in the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals since South Korean Hyeon Chung lifted the trophy in 2017.

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Rune's Rapid Rise Hits New Heights As Holger Cracks Top 10

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2022

Rune’s Rapid Rise Hits New Heights As Holger Cracks Top 10

Danish teen climbs to a career-high World No. 10

When Holger Rune began his 2022 season, he was No. 103 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and needed to enter qualifying at his first tournament of the year. The Danish teen will not need to worry about doing that again any time soon.

By defeating Novak Djokovic in the Rolex Paris Masters final on Sunday, Rune guaranteed he would crack the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday at World No. 10. Rune is the first man from Denmark to accomplish the feat.

Only two active players broke into the Top 10 at a younger age than the 19-year-old — Rafael Nadal (18) and Carlos Alcaraz (18). Rune did so earlier than a laundry list of current and former superstars, including Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Marat Safin and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

“I didn’t expect that at all four or five weeks ago but now I’m here,” said Rune, who will be the first alternate at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.. “I’m super happy how I officially ended my season, and if there possibly is more matches, I’m just super excited for it. Right now I just can’t wait to get some sleep, get some food, just relax totally.”

<a href=''>Holger Rune</a> celebrates his Paris triumph with his team.
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
This time last year, Rune and Carlos Alcaraz were competing in the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. Now Rune is in the Top 10 and Alcaraz is well-positioned to finish year-end World No. 1. This is the first time two teenagers have been ranked inside the Top 10 in more than 15 years. Djokovic and Murray were teens in the elite group on 14 May 2007.

Rune has been in especially imperious form of late, winning 19 of his past 21 matches. He reached the final in Sofia, lifted the trophy in Stockholm, made another championship match in Basel and earned the best result of his career in Paris, where he became the youngest champion since 18-year-old Boris Becker in 1986.

Rune has been clear since breaking onto the ATP Tour that he wants to be the No. 1 player in the world. While in Paris the Dane became the first player on record (since 1973) to defeat five Top 10 opponents at a tournament outside of the Nitto ATP Finals, this will only make him hungry for more.

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According to one of Rune’s coaches, Patrick Mouratoglou, the 19-year-old still has places he can improve his game.

“We have to be very transparent on this. He can progress. He can improve much more. There are elements where he can actually improve very much,” Mouratoglou said. “We are reaching the end of the season. We will work on that. It’s not really that there is a danger, but there is a lot of work to provide. He’s Top 10. It’s not his ambition. It’s wonderful, but it’s not his ambition.

“I don’t know [if] we have seen actually his top tennis. It’s higher than before, but we have to upgrade his average tennis play and to make sure that his normal average play is as excellent as we have seen so far.”

Rune will shortly return to work to do just that. But for now, he will soak in the fruits of his memorable performance in Paris.

“It was very emotional after the match. It’s probably the best feeling of my life, of my whole career,” Rune said. “It’s kind of a small dream come true, even though I have bigger dreams.”

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