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Rune, No 1 seed for the first time : “I’m ready for it”
The Dane also revealed that Patrick Mouratoglou will remain part of his coaching team this year
After a break-out year in 2022, Holger Rune began this year knowing that he needed to could not rest on his laurels, aware of second-season syndrome, the difficulty that comes with players knowing you better, able to work out out.
But the Danish teenager, who was within a point of reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and having a shot at Novak Djokovic, is a confident young man. After a year in which he won his first Masters 1000 title (beating Djokovic) and broke into the top 10, he says he’s prepared for everything that comes at him.
“I’m ready for it,” Rune told reporters in Montpellier, where he will be the No 1 seed for the first time, at this week’s Open Sud de France.
“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.
“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.”
Djokovic win in Bercy gave him confidence
This will be Rune’s first time as the No 1 seed in an ATP Tour event – an experience he’s excited by – but every time he’s set his mind on something so far in his young career, he’s achieved. it. “I’m still young, so I don’t consider my self 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 reach my goals and 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.”
Rune reached the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros last year, won on clay in Munich, indoors in Stockholm and then, famously, in Bercy when he beat Djokovic to lift the Masters 1000 title.
“It was a really good moment for me,” he said. “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 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.”
Rublev defeat in Melbourne hurt
Rune also knows disappointment, having squandered a 5-2 lead in the deciding set and then a 5-0 lead in the deciding match tiebreak to lose to Andrey Rublev in the fourth round in Melbourne last month. It cost him the chance to take on Djokovic, who went on to win the title for a record 10th time.
“Obviously it was a tough loss,” he said. “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.”
Mouratoglou to stay as part of his coaching team
Rune’s ascent toward the top of the game last year was helped by the presence of Patrick Mouratoglou in his coaching set-up. The Dane had trained at the Mouratoglou Academy in the south of France but it was when the Frenchman became a part of the team in the last few months of the year that he really hit new heights.
Initially, Mouratoglou was only intended to be part of the team until the end of 2022 but Rune said things have changed.
“We’re going to continue, yes,” he said. “Last year was obviously great. This year has been very good, too. And it’s nice to have him by my side. We have very good time together, together with Lars (Christensen, his long-time coach) and my mum. The whole team is improving, everybody is open and I’m happy how I’ve built my team.”
Rune will play either Luca van Assche, the junior champion at Roland-Garros last year, or Marc-Andrea Huesler in his first match on Thursday.