#NextGenATP star Holger Rune earned just his second Top 5 win Monday at Roland Garros, where he upset World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to become the first Danish man to reach the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam in the Open Era.
Competing in the fourth round at a major for the first time, the 19-year-old rose to the challenge on Court Philippe Chatrier, showing great variety by combining brutal ball striking with deft drop shots to shock the Greek in three hours.
“I have an unbelievable feeling right now,” Rune said in his on-court interview. “I was so nervous at the end but the crowd was amazing for me the whole match, the whole tournament. I am so grateful and so happy to be playing on this court. You guys are amazing.
“I was very nervous but I know at the same time that if I go away from my tactics against a player like Tsitsipas I am going to lose for sure. I told myself just to keep at it and play my plan in the tough moments. It worked out so well in the end and gave me a huge confidence boost.
Rune is making his debut in Paris and has produced a string of faultless performances so far. Prior to his standout win over 2021 finalist Tsitsipas, the Dane had eliminated Denis Shapovalov, Henri Laaksonen and Hugo Gaston in straight sets.
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In front of a lively crowd, Tsitsipas came out swinging and took the match to Rune by gaining an early break. However, after his nerves settled, the Dane grew into the match. The 19-year-old began to fire his flat groundstrokes through the court, turning the set around with his power from him to move ahead.
Tsitsipas maintained his composure, though, and stuck to his game plan. The 23-year-old demonstrated great footwork to dictate on his forehand and pull Rune around the baseline. The Greek hit eight winners in the set and tightened up his groundstrokes to level as he searched for a Tour-leading 35th win of the season.
However, Rune stuck to the task, returning with depth and aggression to blast through the third set and move back ahead. The 19-year-old then gained an early break in the fourth set, before he served out the match at the second time of asking. He saved three break points in the game and then sealed victory on his first match point, raising his arms in the air in delight.
“I tried to play an aggressive performance,” Rune said. “When Stefanos gets a shorter ball, he attacks a lot, so I had to play aggressively and really fast, taking time away from him. I really like playing drop shots, it is fun to play and it worked out really well.”
By joining the 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals, it is the first time two teenagers have reached this stage at a major since 1994, when Hendrik Dreekmann and Andrei Medvedev advanced to the quarter-finals in the French capital.
“I get so emotional when I talk about family and coaches, but we are still in the quarter-finals, so we haven’t won the tournament yet,” Rune said. “My mum, my whole crew up there is why I am here today. I am so grateful to have such a team helping me in tough situations.”
Rune will look to continue his dream run when he plays Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals. The Norwegian defeated Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to book his spot in the last eight at a Grand Slam for the first time.
– Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 30, 2022
Just 12 months ago, the Dane was ranked outside the Top 300 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Now he is up to No. 31 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following a standout year.
The 19-year-old shocked World No. 3 Alexander Zverev en route to his maiden ATP Tour title in Munich last month, before he reached the semi-finals in Lyon. He is 21-7 across all levels on clay this season.
Rune qualified for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals last November and is in a good position to return to Milan this year following his exploits in Paris, currently sat third in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan.
Tsitsipas was making his sixth appearance in Paris, having lost to Novak Djokovic in five sets in the final last year. The Greek, who triumphed in Monte Carlo in April, edged #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti and Czech qualifier Zdenek Kolar in his opening two matches, but could not survive for a third time in his first meeting with Rune.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.