After reaching his first clay-court ATP Masters 1000 final last month in Monte-Carlo and suffering an early exit in Madrid, Holger Rune made a fast start in his debut at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a 6-3, 6-3 win against Arthur Fils.

In a battle of #NextGenATP stars, the 20-year-old Rune dominated on return, converting on four of 12 break points in the victory.

“He made it tough. He’s young, younger than me. It feels kind of crazy because I think this is the second time in my life I’m playing someone that’s younger,” said Rune, who improved to 2-1 against younger opponents on the ATP Tour, having split two previous matches against Carlos Alcaraz. “For sure he’s in the right direction and I wish him all the best. He’s a nice guy.”

Rune reached a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of World No. 7 after reaching the Monte-Carlo final and has maintained his position since then, aided by a successful title defence in Munich. With no points to defend in Rome, he could rise as high as No. 4 by winning his second Masters 1000 title after his 2022 Rolex Paris Masters triumph.

Fils, 18, was the youngest player in the Rome draw. After reaching his first ATP Tour semi-final in Montpellier in February and earning his first ATP Masters 1000 win on Wednesday against fellow qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo, the Frenchman was denied his first Top 10 win with defeat to Rune. The Dane’s victory extended his winning streak against French opponents to 13 matches, dating back to 2022.


Rune will next face wild card Fabio Fognini in the third round. The Italian earned 6-3, 7-6(6) upset of 30th seed Miomir Kecmanovic earlier on Friday to back up his three-set win against Andy Murray in the first round.

“It’s going to be wild, for sure,” Rune said of his matchup against the home favourite. “But this is great because this is what tennis is about. You already hear the football match [atmosphere] now and this is great, it’s fun. It brings tennis to another level and I’m super excited for it.”

Photo by Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Fourth seed Casper Ruud also advanced on Friday evening with a 6-4, 6-0 win against Arthur Rinderknech. The Norwegian was a perfect four-of-four on his break chances while saving both break points against him.

The victory was Ruud’s 10th in Rome, marking the first time he has reached 10 wins at a single ATP Masters 1000 event. The 24-year-old is a two-time semi-finalist at the Foro Italico (2020, 2022).

Ruud will meet Alexander Bublik in the third round after the Kazakh’s 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 victory against 28th seed Ben Shelton.

Rinderknech fell to 2-2 against the Top 20 on clay by missing out on his biggest career win against the World No. 4.

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