At the age of nineteen, she is already world number seven, collecting successes and scandals on the courts. According to experts, the Danish tennis player Holger Rune will form the “big three” of the coming generation together with Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.
“Is Holger Rune the new John McEnroe?” one of the most influential tennis figures, Pam Shriver, asked herself a rather rhetorical question at the end of last week.
She was not alone in thinking of such a comparison. The Danish youngster is very reminiscent of the famous stormtrooper in his behavior.
“He’s a big personality and his matches are something to watch, whether it’s the tantrums or the conflicts with opponents. He brings a McEnroe-type chaotic energy, we see flashes of Nick Kyrgios in him. He brings something that tennis lacks in its declining popularity, ” wrote Hannah Jane Parkinson from the British newspaper The Guardian in her column.
At the tournament in Monte Carlo, the Dane reached the final, and although he lost to the Russian Andrei Rublev after a fight, he is once again being talked about as a future superstar. Unless she’s gone now.
Rune became the first teenager since Rafael Nadal’s success in 2006 to play in the final of a major tournament in Monaco. He is also the third teenage tennis player, after Nadal and his peer Carlos Alcaraz, to play in the finals of at least two ATP Masters 1000 tournaments on different surfaces.
In the fall, he phenomenally conquered indoor Paris, and now he has succeeded among top competition on orange clay as well. It wouldn’t be him if he didn’t face the hate pouring in from the audience.
In the semi-final, a large crowd of Italian fans, chasing their beloved Jannik Sinner, angered each other with outbursts and subsequent provocations. Nevertheless, he won an excellent duel and, following the example of the Russian Daniil Medvedev, who expressed himself similarly during his famous run to the US Open 2019 final, he thanked them for the adversity.
“My relationship with the audience has been amazing. It gives you a lot of energy and it’s fun. And I think if you ask people, they want it more than two guys looking down and doing nothing,” Rune said, clearly resigned to paying for a “naughty child”.
However, the nineteen-year-old tennis player is still balancing on thin ice. Even the members of his team know how dangerous it can be when exceptional talent begins to drown in chaos. After all, the aforementioned Nick Kyrgios was hampered by a similar approach for many years.
“Holger is someone who is capable of making bold decisions. His demeanor is that of a perfectionist. He has room for improvement when it comes to managing his emotions, no doubt about that. But he is aware of it. We are talking about a player who is not even twenty years old.” reassured Rune’s agent Philippe Weiss in an interview with the French L’Equipe.
The list of Rune’s indecencies is already quite long.
They called him a scamp, a brat, once even a homophobe, when he lost his temper in Italy last summer and hissed one derogatory term after another at his opponent like he had lost his senses.
In the fall in Paris, Rune escaped three match points against Stan Wawrinka, and the veteran champion advised him to stop acting like a child during the handshake.
Rune kept his ears down, but his mother and manager Aneke reacted angrily to the incident through the media. Another one was added to the expressions mentioned above: spoiled mommy.
It has long been clear that Rune brings revival, controversy and a breath of fresh air. He also gained attention with low-key moments like from a reality show.
For example, when he accused later finalist Casper Ruud of unsportsmanlike behavior behind the player’s locker room door after being eliminated from the French Open. The calm Norwegian called the claim a complete lie and just shook his head in incomprehension in interviews. On the other hand, no one believed the erratic and easily emotional Dane.
But no one can match the extraordinary tennis skills of the former junior world number one.
When he became the very first tennis player to defeat five players in the world’s top 10 at a single event outside the Champions League in Paris in the autumn, even beaten finalist Novak Djokovic was drooling over him: the man who won the first of his twenty-two Grand Slam titles when Rune was five years.
“I’m disappointed that you beat me, on the other hand, I’m happy because I like your personality. I think you’re completely dedicated to tennis and you work very hard. I see a bright future ahead of you,” Djokovic praised his opponent.
He also stated that Rune reminds him of himself at such a young age. “He has a competitive spirit, he is very confident, he goes for the winning shots. He has a fantastic backhand and can mix up the game. In addition, he is incredibly fit and defends extremely well,” added the Serb.
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