Holger Rune defeated Novak Djokovic in the Rome Masters quarter-final, beating the Serb for the second straight time. The young Dane earned a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 triumph in two hours and 19 minutes, playing well in sets one and three to emerge at the top.
Holger admitted he tried to make things difficult for Novak, enjoying his battles against a 22-time Major winner. Rune uses their encounters to discover the areas he has to improve. Also, what works for him against Novak works against anybody else, and Holger is eager to continue with everything he does well.
Novak could not find the rhythm in slow and cold conditions at Foro Italico. He struggled with his right elbow and sprayed too many errors to finish his run in the last eight and drop points. Djokovic grabbed the second set after a rain delay, and the young gun made a fresh start in the decider to advance into the semi-final.
Holger served at only 30% in the opening set, but no one could notice that. He defended two break points in the only troubled service game and stole Novak’s serve two times for a massive advantage. Rune attacked in the encounter’s first game and grabbed a break with a backhand down the line winner.
Holger Rune defeated Novak Djokovic in the Rome Masters quarter-final.
The Dane saved those two break points in the second game to confirm the lead and held after the Serb’s mistake. Djokovic sprayed a forehand error in the fifth game to experience another break and fall 4-1 behind.
The Serb saved a set point on serve in game seven to prolong the action before the Dane held with a service winner in the next one for 6-2 in 38 minutes. Novak raised his level in the second set. He broke from 40-15 down in the sixth game to move 4-2 up and build the advantage.
Djokovic served for the set at 5-3 and sprayed a forehand error to get broken and keep Rune in contention. The Serb won the opening two points on the return in game ten before the rain sent them off the court. They returned an hour later, and Novak broke at love with a forehand winner to force a decider and improve his chances.
Holger made a fresh start and grabbed a break in the third set’s opening game. Not feeling at his best and spraying too many mistakes, Djokovic experienced another break in the third game to fall 3-0 behind and move further away from the finish line.
Novak held after deuce at 1-5 to prolong the match and drew Holger’s loose backhand in the next one for a break point. Rune denied it with a forced error and earned a match point with a service winner. Novak sprayed a forehand error to propel the opponent over the top and end his campaign in the quarter-final.
“I’m trying to make it difficult for Novak. I have done that two times in a row, but Novak also makes it hard for me. It’s a good fight every time we play. I like to battle with Novak. He is a great player to face because he makes it so challenging for me.
It’s useful for me, as I can see my improvement areas. If something works against Novak, it works against anybody. That’s why I’m happy with the win,” Holger Rune said.