Holger Rune earned the biggest win of his career last year against Novak Djokovic in the final of the Rolex Paris Masters. It was the Danish star’s first ATP Masters 1000 title and his first victory over Djokovic.

That clash was on an indoor hard court and now they will meet on an outdoor clay court in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. But Rune does not feel the change in conditions will change much.

“To be honest, I don’t think it’s going to be so different. Novak is an all-court player. I think he’s tough no matter where you play him. He’s shown that. He’s won Rome six times,” Rune said. “[That] says itself that it’s going to be tough.

“I have to be at my best. Now [I need to] recover physically, try to be as ready as I can for tomorrow [and] try to play my best tennis because I will need that for tomorrow, for sure.”

The respect is mutual. After Djokovic defeated Cameron Norrie on Tuesday, the Serbian shared high praise for Rune.

“Even though he’s really young, I know his game quite well. He’s been on the tour now for last few years playing some great tennis, particularly in the last I would say six to eight months,” Djokovic said. “He’s been really establishing himself as a top player. He’s a Top 10 player, deservedly so. He’s been playing some really high-quality tennis. He’s one of the hardest workers out there. Nice guy. I get along well with him. On the court obviously we certainly want to win against each other.”

Djokovic went on to describe Rune’s gamestyle and said, “He kind of reminds me a little bit, the way he plays”. Rune heard about the comment.

“It’s a good thing I think. Novak, obviously he has an amazing career,” Rune said. “But yeah, I’m feeling better and better coming into Roland Garros. I feel like I’m getting closer to my best level. Still a few things that I feel like I can do better, which is nice because I still have time.”


For now, Rune will be fully focused on his upcoming match against Djokovic. They have split their first two ATP Head2Head meetings and the Dane is excited for the opportunity to play the top seed again.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a good challenge to see where I’m at,” Rune said. “Novak is one of the greatest players that ever played the game. It’s good to have the chance to challenge myself and challenge hopefully Novak tomorrow.”

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