Holger Rune pulls off rainy Italian Open upset against Novak Djokovic

Holger Rune pulls off a rain-soaked upset against Novak Djokovic in Rome… setting up the first Italian Open final in 19 YEARS to not feature either the Serbian superstar or Rafael Nadal

  • The result sees the world No 7 score successive wins over the Serbian giant
  • Upcoming French Open is set to be a relatively open contest in the men’s singles 
  • Tennis will be damaged by bloated scheduling… when will it realise less is more?

Denmark’s Holger Rune delivered another crunching upset at the Italian Open to further suggest that the forthcoming men’s event at Roland Garros will be the least predictable for decades.

The 20-year-old world number seven scored his second straight win over Novak Djokovic to end one of the more remarkable sequences that have marked the dominance of the Big Three.

His rain-interrupted 6-2 4-6 6-2 victory means that it will be the first time in an incredible 19 years that neither Djokovic nor Rafael Nadal will feature in the Rome final.

As the biggest signpost to Paris it tells of a forthcoming clay court Grand Slam that, highly unusually for the men, should have at least six genuine contenders for the title, especially with the shock defeat earlier this week of Carlos Alcaraz.

Among them is the supremely confident Rune, who added to his previous win over Djokovic at last year’s indoor Paris Masters.

Holger Rune will feature against either Casper Ruud or Francisco Cerundolo in the final

Novak Djokovic missed out on claiming a seventh Italian Open title on a rainy day in Rome

Rune registered his second consecutive win against the current World No 1 aftter beating him last year’s Paris Masters final 

In relatively slow and heavy conditions both players argued with umpire Mohamed Lahyani over line calls with the younger player giving no quarter. Forced off for an hour at 4-5 in the second set, he regrouped to race to a 4-0 lead in the decider and was more solid than Djokovic at what has been one of his favourite venues.

Afterwards Djokovic declared that he was still confident about his chances at the French Open, but he will go there with little momentum, having amassed a modest 5-3 record on the European clay, and with only one tournament before that since the Australian Open. 

He took a painkiller during the match and has been having treatment on a niggling injury in his elbow.

Rune increasingly looks like he is not far behind Alcaraz among the coming generation, and mixed aggressive intent with tactical acumen. ‘This is a huge win for me. He makes it so hard to serve out a match and puts the pressure on so I am very proud of myself for that.’

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