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Rune, aged 19, stuns Tsitsipas at Roland-Garros for first major quarter-final

Holger Rune produced the biggest men’s upset so far at Roland-Garros 2022

Holger Rune, Roland-Garros 2022 Holger Rune, Roland-Garros 2022

Holger Rune engineered the biggest win of his young career by ousting Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first major upset in the men’s draw at Roland-Garros 2022.  Rune beat last year’s finalist and the player who was favoured to advance to the final again from the bottom half of the draw, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the main Court Philippe-Chatrier. 

Attempting to close the fourth-round contest out was never going to be simple for the 19-year-old and indeed, he lost nine consecutive points from 5-2 up in the final set. He was creaking. But the Dane saved three break points – all with winners – at 5-4 before seeing Tsitsipas’ forehand go long on a first match point. 

A big clay season by Rune

Based on his early form in 2022, few would have predicted this, since Rune lost five straight matches from January into early February following a fruitful, yet marathon 2021 where he contested a century of matches. But winning a Challenger in April in Italy, then qualifying for Monte Carlo with no time to spare proved to be a significant moment in his campaign. 

He duly claimed his maiden title in Munich — registering a first top-10 win along the way over Alexander Zverev — and made the semifinals in Lyon the week before Roland-Garros. The latter wasn’t a simple matter, either, since Rune dealt with cramps, and not for the first time. 

He might not have tallied the same victories this season as Carlos Alcaraz, but Rune joins his fellow 19-year-old in the last eight. Rune, who counts Roger Federer as his major idol, mixed his power ball striking with defence when required. He adores the drop shot, as his Greek opponent discovered in the pair’s first meeting.

Tsitsipas struggled during this Roland-Garros 

Caroline Wozniacki remains Denmark’s most famous tennis player – a former No. 1 and Australian Open winner – but Rune became the first man from his nation in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final. 

There was hardly any difference between Rune and Tsitsipas in first and second serve points won, yet the winners’ tally did provided a contrast. Rune struck 54 winners to Tsitsipas’ 41 and finished with 38 unforced errors to his foe’s 33. 

As gifted as Rune is, Tsitsipas’ opening matches last week suggested he just wasn’t in the form he desired. The world No. 4 needed to come from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round and survived an intense four-setter against Czech qualifier Zdenek Kolar

Tsitsipas had to save four straight set points in the fourth set tiebreak to avoid another fifth-setter. And this after Tsitsipas retained his Monte Carlo title, reached the semi-finals in Madrid and final in Rome.

Rune next faces his fellow Scandinavian in Casper Ruud, and the eighth-seeded Norwegian surely won’t be expecting anything but a battle. Besides Rune’s display Monday in Paris, Ruud only just got past Rune 7-6 (5), 7-5 in Monte Carlo – after two lopsided wins in their two other encounters.

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