In the shadow of Carlos Alcaraz, attraction of the season and of Roland-Garros, hatches another crack of the 2003 generation, a Nordic version and a blond powder puff. Same cute sin for amortizations as the Spaniard, whom he has already faced a dozen times in the juniors, same parasailing: 475th at the start of 2021, the Dane Holger Rune is now 40th, after fourteen months on the main circuit .

When the Murcian (6th in the world) came close to a premature exit on the Parisian crushed brick, saving a match point in the second round, he has not yet dropped a single set, before facing the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday May 30 in round of 16. After eliminating Canadian Denis Shapovalov, seeded number 14, he easily dominated Henri Laaksonen (6-2, 6-3, 6-3). The only small scare against the Swiss: the Scandinavian tripped over the baseline and, to spare his ankle, thought it wiser to withdraw from doubles.

Saturday evening August 28, the last survivor of the French clan, Hugo Gaston, suffered the same fate (6-3, 6-3, 6-3), despite the support of the 15,000 spectators on the Central court swept away by gusts . “Rune hits very hard, he’s very solid from the baseline and makes few mistakes. I would have liked to put him under more pressure, “lamented the Toulouse left-hander, reduced to doing the windshield wiper. Round face and cap upside down, his opponent never seemed timorous for his baptism on the huge Philippe-Chatrier court. Neither the least in the world upset by an audience which reconnects this year with its sound and chauvinistic naturalness, after two editions jostled by the Covid-19 pandemic, between closed doors and restrictive gauges.

“I almost feel at home”

More serene, more powerful, more aggressive too, the right-hander played his game, strengthened by the confidence garnered in recent months. “I’m confident in my game,” he said, sounding lucid. I believe I can beat anyone, but also lose to anyone. »

Three weeks before his debut in the big picture Porte d’Auteuil, he lifted his first trophy on the main circuit – a first for a Dane since Kenneth Carlsen in 2005. In Munich, where he celebrated his 19th birthday, he did not has not conceded a set in five games played, with a victory in passing against the German Alexander Zverev (world number 3).

The young man was offered a luxury car in Bavaria, a traditional gift given to the winner. Only problem: he couldn’t leave with it. “I don’t have a driver’s license. As soon as I have time in front of me, I will pass it and I will go to collect [the car], “he said with a smile after his victory in the first round in Paris, Tuesday May 24.

The tall blond (1.88 m), born in Gentofte, in the east of the island of Seeland, is a fan of clay. In 2019, he became the first representative of his country to win the Parisian Grand Slam among juniors. “I like the conditions, I almost feel at home playing here”, said this week, Rune, welcomed at the age of 13 in the academy of Patrick Mouratoglou – coach of the American Serena Williams and now of the Romanian Simona Halep.

The Dane has had the same coach by his side since he was 6.5 years old. “For a week he was Rafa, with the headband and all the gear. He wanted to be like him. The following week, he became Federer and devoted himself entirely to it. He loved the game, told Lars Christensen at ATP in December 2021. He was technically better than most players. But he wasn’t moving well enough, so I decided to focus on his physique and his mobility,” describing a kid at the time as “lazy” in those records.

All of this is ancient history. At the beginning of spring, his colt made his mark by pulling off a small feat: winning two matches on the same day… in two different countries. On April 10 in the early afternoon, Rune won a Challenger tournament (the second division of the circuit) in San Remo (Italy), before continuing, a few hours later, with the qualifications of Monte-Carlo . A one hour and ten minute drive to the French town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, about 200 meters from the Monegasque border. With a bit of luck, next time he will be able to take the wheel himself.

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