Djokovic’s latest conqueror disappointed to miss out on grudge match
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Holger Rune has opened up on his career-best win over Novak Djokovic in Paris-Bercy as he admitted he was disappointed not to face the world No 1 again at the Australian Open. The 19-year-old is the last man to have beaten Djokovic, upsetting him in the final of the Paris Masters three months to win the biggest title of his young career.
Rune has the achievement of being the last man to defeat Djokovic, with the Serb now on a 17-match winning streak dating back to last November and spanning his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and sixth ATP Finals crown as well as a trophy in Adelaide. Three months ago, the teenager came from a set down to stun the 35-year-old in the final of the Paris Masters and win his biggest title yet, also making his top 10 debut.
The Dane then came within one match of another showdown with the world No 1 when he lost to Andrey Rublev in a final set tiebreak in the Australian Open fourth-round, having held two match points. And ahead of this week’s Montpellier Open he has now shared his disappointment to miss out on what would have been a revenge match for Djokovic.
“It was a really good moment for me,” he told reporters in Montpellier. “It was the biggest moment of my career and probably my life so far. So it was huge. Knowing that I could play and beat this guy on that level was also a confidence boost and gave me a lot of hope for this year. And I still have that hope, so that’s good. But I know how much effort and how much work I put into it so I know what it takes.”
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Rune also reflected on his heartbreaking defeat to Rublev in Melbourne, which saw him fail to close out the match despite leading 5-2 in the final set before he blew a 5-0 advantage in the final set breaker, costing him the chance to play Djokovic for the second time in less than three months. “Obviously it was a tough loss,” the 19-year-old admitted.
“I really wanted to have the chance to play Novak again, but it didn’t happen. I mean, I can’t predict anything. I would just have gone into the match with a lot of excitement and obviously believing, because I always believe I can win in any match I play. But of course, it would be the toughest ever possible match to play in the quarters.”
Rune is the top seed for the first time at an ATP tournament this week and was feeling the pressure but didn’t want to shy away from it. He said: “I’m ready for it. Obviously, I feel it. It’s going to be more like everybody who is going to play me wants to beat me even more than than last year. But that’s fine. I mean, it shows that I did well and it’s a positive thing.”
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And he has enough experience to draw on despite his young age, as he recalled being the top seed in juniors while his win over Djokovic also provided plenty of confidence. The world No 9 continued: “Obviously it’s going to be harder matches from now on because I’m, in a way, supposed to win more matches than I was last year.
“But as we all know, everybody can play extremely good on the tour. And if I’m not there, I’m going to lose. So I have to be 100 percent ready to play my best tennis in every match. And if I don’t, I have to try to find solutions and be ready to fight. I’m still young, so I don’t consider myself as having to win (all the time). But obviously I’m the first (seed) of the tournament.
“It’s a good challenge because if I want to reach my goals and reach my dreams, I’m going to have to be first seeded in tournaments. So it’s good to get used to it. It’s a good feeling. It’s better than being eight or something. But it’s different. But when I played juniors, I was very often first seeded so I can go back in and think how I did it there.”
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