Another surprise at the Rome Masters 1000! After the quick elimination of Carlos Alcaraz, it’s Novak Djokovic’s turn to say goodbye to his title chances following his defeat against Holger Rune this Wednesday, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
Overwhelmed in the first set, the current world number one looked shy. The elbow didn’t seem to be at its best. However, Nole was able to pull himself together and led 5-4, 0-30 before a break. An hour later, the Serbian scored two points to come back to a set all. The match seemed to have turned but the talented Dane finally regained control of the game before winning after 2 hours and 15 minutes of play.
“I’m going to ask him for advice. He beat me twice so… I don’t have any advice to give him. So far, he’s doing great,” Novak laughed in conference. Crazy statistic: for the first time since 2004, the final in Rome will be without Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Rune is now 2-1 in his head-to-head with Djokovic having beaten him in Paris last year, and lost in four sets at the US Open in 2021.
“I’m trying to make it difficult for him,” Rune smiled in his press conference. “I think I’ve managed to do that now two times in a row, to make it difficult for him.
“But for sure he makes it very difficult for me also. It’s a good battle every time we play. I like to battle with him. He’s a great player to play because he makes it so challenging for me, which I find that nice because I can really see where I have to improve, what is working.
“If it’s working against Novak, it works against almost anybody. So I’m super happy with the win.”
Rune, ranked No 7, will play the winner of the match between Norwegian Casper Ruud, the No 4 seed, and Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo, the No 24 seed, next.
With just over a week to go before the start of the French Open, this defeat is cause for concern. In 2023, Djokovic has played eight matches on clay for only five wins. But the Serb, as always, remains confident about his chances.
“I don’t need anything more. I’m just training and preparing for the most important clay court tournament of the season for me. I know I can always play better. I really want to work on some aspects of my game, my body and hopefully get to 100 percent. That’s the goal. I always like my chances in Grand Slams against anyone on any surface, best of five. We’ll see how it goes.”
With Nadal diminished and the Serbian’s rollercoaster results, this may be the most open French Open in 20 years. “It depends on whether Nadal plays or not (smile). But next to him are Alcaraz, Rune, these guys are candidates, favorites to win the title. The new generation is already here. Alcaraz is number one in the world since Monday. Obviously, he’s been playing incredible tennis. I think it’s good for our sport that we have new faces, it’s normal. We’ve been saying that for years, what we would expect. Personally, I try to stay with them. I’m happy with my career so far and I’m still hungry to continue.”
Leave a Reply