Rune Books Tsitsipas Showdown In Roland Garros Debut

  • Posted: May 28, 2022

Rune Books Tsitsipas Showdown In Roland Garros Debut

#NextGenATP Dane competing in third Grand Slam

Holger Rune shined in his Court Philippe Chatrier debut Saturday night, fending off home favourite Hugo Gaston and the Paris crowd to extend his dream debut at Roland Garros. The #NextGenATP Dane scored an impressive 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win to set up a fourth-round showdown with fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The match was a great spectacle, filled with lengthy rallies and plenty of twists despite the straightforward scoreline. There were 10 combined breaks of serve, with the 19-year-old Rune converting on seven of his 11 break chances. 

Gaston ignited a party atmosphere under the Chatrier lights by breaking in the opening game of the match, but Rune responded brilliantly by winning five straight games to quiet the crowd. After the Dane cruised through the second set with a pair of breaks, he raced out to a 5-1 lead in the third to put one foot in the fourth round.

But neither Gaston nor the Paris crowd gave up, and Toulouse native closed to 3-5 much to the delight of his supporters. Stepping to the line to serve out the match for the second time, Rune got the better of some lengthy rallies to get over the line without any additional drama.

Both men eclipsed 30 winners, with Rune hitting 38 to his opponent’s 31. Many of those winners came at the end of punishing rallies, with Ruud frequently pulling his opponent out of position. The Dane’s control of all aspects of the match was underlined by his healthy edge in short (plus seven), medium (plus nine) and long (plus seven) rallies.

Rune, playing in his third Grand Slam, picked up his first victory at that level by upsetting 14th seed Denis Shapovalov in the Paris opening round. He beat Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen in the second round before getting past the 21-year-old Gaston. The Dane has not dropped a set on the fortnight, and only dropped more than three games in a set once, when Shapovalov took him to a third-set tie-break.

The 2019 Roland Garros boys’ singles champion and a former junior World No. 1, Rune made his ATP Tour debut in 2021 and his Grand Slam debut at the 2021 US Open, where he took a set off Novak Djokovic in the opening round. He took two sets off Soonwoo Kwon in a five-set first-round loss at the 2022 Australian Open and claimed his first tour-level title in Munich on May 1.

The 19-year-old’s rise to a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of No. 40 has been a quiet one, certainly compared to his contemporary Carlos Alcaraz, but the Dane maintains a strong sense of self-belief — a prerequisite for such success at an early age. While Alcaraz is known for his powerful and all-action game, Rune exudes a quiet confidence with a smooth and finesse-based attack which was on full display on centre court Saturday night.

Rune, who first broke into the Top 100 in January, began playing tennis at age six with his sister, who is four years older. The 19-year-old describes himself as relaxed and even lazy off the court, and is a fan of football and basketball as well as cinema. Before he made his breakthrough on the ATP Tour, Rune was a hitting partner at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, where he got the chance to hit with the likes of Roger Federer and Djokovic. He even got some serving tips from former World No. 2 Goran Ivanisevic, Djokovic’s coach.  

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Fittingly, Rune will meet Tsitsipas, the winner of that year’s Nitto ATP Finals title, in the fourth round. It will be their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

The Dane is one of two unseeded players among the last 16 standing at Roland Garros fourth round, alongside Bernabe Zapata Miralles.

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