Holger rune fist pumps

Photo : welovetennis.fr

First, it was his unique hairstyle that got him noticed.   

Then, it was his name—Holger Vitus Nødskov Rune—half of which he quickly dropped.  

On May 1, two days after his 19th birthday, the No.70 won his first ATP 250 title. When his opponent Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands had to drop out of the final, wild card Holger Rune took the top honours on the clay in Munich.   

The Dane is now well on his way. He started the season at No.103 and currently sits at No.45. A year ago, he was No.314. So, in 12 months, he’s skyrocketed 269 places in the rankings.  

Pretty impressive.  

In Bavaria, it was rallies like this one that helped Rune send top seed Alexander Zverev packing.

The teen then proceeded to dismantle Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland who, like Rune, is one of the rare Scandinavians in the ATP Top 100.  

On May 2, there were only four, one from each Scandinavian nation:

ATP rankings on May 2

7Casper Ruud (NOR)23 years old
45Holger Rune (DAN)19  years old
59Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)23  years old
100Mikael Ymer (SUE)23  years old

Four isn’t a lot, but it’s a start.  

How many Canadians were in the Top 100 when Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic jumped in? There’s no doubt their successes had a ripple effect.    

Just a few decades back, northern Europe was well represented in the ATP, if not overly so.   

Thirty-five years ago, the Swedes were everywhere. There were 8 in the Top 30! 

Of course, they were following in the footsteps of Bjorn Borg, who burst onto the scene and became a legend. But since 1992, there have been virtually none of his countrymen in the Top 100.  

In all likelihood, Holger Rune will be the first Danish man to enter the Top 40 in the Open Era. If he locks down three more titles, he’ll be the most decorated Dane in the history of the ATP, ahead of Kenneth Carlsen, who ranked as high as No.45 and took home three winner’s trophies.

Photo : Getty 

Still, Rune’s got a long way to go to catch up to the GOAT Danish player, Caroline Wozniacki. The former World No.1 holds 30 titles, including a Slam. 

Speaking of Caroline Wozniacki, she’s probably a model for 19-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark, who’s got her eyes on the Top 40. She climbed to No.33 in 2021 and keeps gaining experience.  

Will she repeat some of Caroline’s achievements? Anything’s possible when you’re following a great example.

No piece of cake 

At tennis tournaments, the top players usually start colliding in the quarters.  

But in the first round?  

That’s what happened in Madrid, when two men who should have met up in the last rounds fought it out in the first.  

In spring 2017, then World No.1 Andy Murray and World No.9 Dominic Thiem went head-to-head in a semi in Barcelona.

Who would have thought they’d be No.78 and No.91, respectively, and have to face each other in their first match at the Mutua Madrid Open just five years later?  

Of course, injuries and long breaks pushed the veterans further and further down in the rankings. Sir Andy was out for 11 months in 2017–2018 and then 7 more in 2019. In late March, Thiem came back from 8 months away.  

The other factor is age.  

At 34, Andy Murray knows he won’t find his way back into the Top 10. At 28, Thiem could but his best years might be behind him.  

So, that’s how two Grand Slam and Masters 1000 champions ran into each other in the Spanish capital on day one.  

In the end, Andy Murray was the better of the two: he defeated Thiem in two sets (6-3, 6-4), in 1:43. The Austrian suffered his fourth loss in as many matches since his return, while Murray nabbed his first win on clay in five years. 

Catch all the highlights right here.

By Alizé Cornet

Photo : Twitter 

It turns out that two members of the WTA will be releasing books this month.  

I wrote about Bibi’s Got Game by Bianca Andreescu on April 13.  

On May 4, Alizé Cornet launches La Valse des jours.  

No, it isn’t an autobiography. It’s actually a novel: the story of a mother and her two daughters set in 1960s Nice, in the South of France.  

And no, it isn’t the first book Alizé’s published.  

In 2020, she penned Transcendence: Diary of a Tennis Addict, a journal and work of introspection meant to help readers understand how a world-class athlete thinks.  

In an interview with Tennis.com last summer, she said: “Writing is a way for me to express myself, especially when I was going through tough times or not feeling happy on Tour, which was unfortunately quite often. I didn’t feel like I belonged to the Tour in the beginning, like this world was very solitary and alone.”

Image : Twitter 

“The best feedback was from people who told me that I wasn’t a player they ever liked but now they love me because of my book!” she added.

You call that a serve?

Image : ATP Challenger Tour 

We’ve seen some strange serves this season. So much so that we don’t even bat an eye at Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Bublik or Gaël Monfils’ underhand openers anymore.  

About two months ago, Maxime Cressy hit what may be the slowest serve in history. If you missed his sailing shot, you can watch it here.

Today, it’s this overhand serve by Aidan Mayo that doesn’t really fall into any category.  

At the Savannah Challenger in Georgia on April 26, the American was battling the no.1 seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina (No.94). The malicious 18-year-old hurriedly hit his serve and the ball landed a few feet beyond the net, leaving his opponent frozen in the backcourt.

Though surprising, the shot wasn’t enough to win. Etcheverry easily closed things out 6-4, 6-1.

Email: privard@tenniscanada.com 

Twitter: @paul6rivard 

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