Rune on his own journey as Alcaraz stars, too, at Roland-Garros

Comparisons between fellow 19-year-olds Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune are obvious, even though Alcaraz is more accomplished. Rune, though, has charted his own course to the French Open quarter-finals.

Holger Rune, Roland-Garros 2022 Holger Rune, Roland-Garros 2022 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

It’s only natural for Holger Rune to be mentioned in the same breath as Carlos Alcaraz, since they are both 19 and have reached the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros.

But Rune is keen to point out his path differs from Alcaraz, the Spanish dynamo who entered the 2022 French Open as one of the favourites and is receiving plenty of the spotlight. 

“I think he deserves all the attention that he’s getting,” said Rune. “About me, I’m going at my own pace, at my own kind of way, and improving at my own time. It’s great. Everybody has their own journey, and this is mine.” 

His journey, however, does include intersecting with Alcaraz — unsurprising given their identical age. 

Denmark's Holger Rune at Roland Garros 2022
Denmark’s Holger Rune at Roland Garros 2022 Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

They played doubles together at Les Petits As, the prestigious 14 and under event in Tarbes, France — a YouTube video shows the pairing in action years ago — and Alcaraz beat Rune in straight sets at last year’s Next Gen Finals in Milan. 

Along parallel lines, both have now upset Stefanos Tsitsipas at a Grand Slam — Rune achieving the feat Monday at Roland-Garros for a maiden appearance in a major quarter-final. Alcaraz took down the Greek in five sets during third-round action at the 2021 U.S. Open.

Rune wants to be number one

Unlike the Spaniard, Rune hails from a country not necessarily known for tennis — at least not on the men’s side. Spanish tennis tradition, of course, runs deep — led by the man Alcaraz could meet in the semi-finals, Rafael Nadal. 

Rune rose to No. 1 in the junior ranks and in a further impressive display of his ability — also showcasing his resilience — he won matches at each of the three professional levels last year. Including qualifying, Rune played more than 100 matches, with his mother Aneke a mainstay in his player box. 

Not lacking in confidence, Rune repeated Monday that his goal is to be No. 1 in the pro ranks. Even now, he feels that if he plays his best game, he can get the better of all but a few. 

If I play my tennis, I believe I’m capable of beating almost everybody on the tour

Holger Rune

“If I play my tennis, I believe I’m capable of beating almost everybody on the tour,” he said. “But also, I really have to be in the moment, because if not, everybody can also beat me. So it’s really about just staying focused and focus mostly on the tennis.”

In overcoming Tsitsipas in four sets, Rune accounted for the favourite to reach the final from the bottom half. Yet that hasn’t been all. He began by upsetting 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov, beat the experienced Henri Laaksonen — the Swiss made it to the third round last year — and ousted home darling Hugo Gaston. 

Dane to meet Norway’s Ruud

Eighth seed Casper Ruud awaits in a rare all-Scandinavian Grand Slam quarter-final on Wednesday. Ruud leads their head-to-heads 3-0 and has thrived on clay, but Rune only narrowly lost 7-6(5), 7-5 in Monte-Carlo last month.

In that match, Rune didn’t face a break point in the first set and led the tiebreaker 5-3. In the second he led 3-1. 

“It was a great match, I think,” the teenager assessed. “It was very close. I had a lot of chances, and didn’t really take them. But of course Casper is very confident also on the clay, and I am, too.

“So it’s for sure going to be a great battle. I believe my chances good, and so does he, I think.”

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