No Djok – Holger Rune’s Novak Paris dream

DANISH teenager Holger Rune has stunned former world number one Novak Djokovic to win his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Paris Masters overnight. In doing so, the 19-year-old reached the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in his career. The win, which marked Rune’s third title – both career and in 2022 – saw him skyrocket into 10th in the world and become the first alternative for the ATP Finals later this month.

Rune fought his way back from a set down to win in three, 3-6 6-3 7-5 and stun a Paris crowd that was expecting the more experienced Djokovic over the line. But the Danish young gun with a superb backhand was unbelievable in sticking with the Serb, and then when he was challenged in the deciding set, he came through. Trailing by a break at 1-3 in the third, he bounced back to get on serve, then when needing to serve for the match, saved six break points in the face of a fierce Djokovic attack.

“It was the most stressful game of my life,” Rune said of that final game. “My heart was almost in my brain. I was already starting to think about the tie-break. I’m very proud I could finish it.”

The match lasted two hours and 33 minutes, with Rune stunning Djokovic with his quality and deadly backhand that produced 17 winners across the match. Often he was up against it with the Serb producing an 82 per cent success rate off his first serve points and a 64 per cent clip, but a critical break in the second set helped seal the deal. He broke from each of his three chances, while defending 10 of the 12 against his own serve.

“I’m feeling lovely to be honest, it’s the best feeling,” Rune said. “If you told me four weeks ago, I would be Top 10… I would be like ‘What, sorry?’. Now I’m here and I’m super proud.”

The victory also marked Rune’s fifth consecutive victory against a Top 10 opponent, having one of the toughest draws in the tournament. He defeated world number one Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter finals – who had to retire in the second set tiebreaker – fought off world number nine Andrey Rublev and world number 10 Hubert Hurkacz, and came from behind against Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka to win that match in the opening round.

However Rune’s best win was perhaps snapping the 16-game winning streak of Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime – who beat the Dane in the Basel final a week earlier – before taking down Djokovic. The past month has seen Rune reach four consecutive finals, win two of them and go on a 19-2 streak that has put him in line for an ATP Finals berth if one other player aside from the injured Alexander Zverev pulls out. Prior to the past month, Rune was 20-22 on the year and ranked 31st in the world.

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