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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer get company in Holger Rune

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Novak Djokovic has won 27 hard-court Masters 1000 titles from 37 finals. Novak’s first hard-court Masters 1000 final came in Indian Wells 2007, and only three players would beat him in the title matches for the next 11 years.

Those were the big three members, with no one outside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray achieving that. Karen Khachanov joined the list after beating Novak in the 2018 Paris Masters. The young Dane Holger Rune became the fifth player to defeat Djokovic in a hard-court Masters 1000 final a couple of weeks ago in Paris.

Holger toppled Novak 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 33 minutes, coming from a set down and enduring all the efforts in the decider to become the fourth-youngest Masters 1000 winner. Holger came to Paris with three Masters 1000 wins under his belt.

He defeated five consecutive top-10 rivals to lift the trophy and write history books. Novak had his chances to seal the deal and emerge at the top, even in straight sets. He created three break chances at the start of the second set and squandered a game point that could have pushed him 4-1 in front in the decider.

The Serb made one last push while trailing 6-5 in the final set. He created six break chances but wasted them to push the young gun over the top.

Novak Djokovic lost his tenth hard-court Masters 1000 final in Paris.

Djokovic won five points more, but not the crucial ones.

Holger erased ten out of 12 break chances and converted all three break points to emerge at the top. The Dane played aggressive tennis and fired 43 winners and 33 unforced errors. Novak dominated with his first serve and hit more service winners than Holger.

The youngster climbed back in the more extended baseline exchanges, taming his strokes nicely and staying focused in the pivotal moments. Novak dropped five points behind the initial shot in the opener and broke Holger in game four for 3-1.

The more experienced player wrapped up the set on his serve in game nine and created three break chances at the start of the second. Rune denied them and broke for the first time in the next one after Novak’s loose forehand.

The Dane served well in the rest of the set and clinched it 6-3 with a hold at love in game nine to introduce a decider after 80 minutes. Novak broke at 15 in the fourth game after the rival’s double fault and had a chance to move 4-1 up in the next one.

Instead, Holger extended that game with a backhand down the line winner and broke back with a forehand crosscourt winner for more drama. Djokovic missed his chances on the return in game eight and sprayed a forehand mistake in the 11th to fall 6-5 behind.

Rune served for the victory in the 12th game, and it turned into a real roller coaster. Novak created six break points that could have prolonged the battle and sent them into a tie break. Rune saved them after challenging 17 minutes and seized the second match point to become the youngest champion in Paris since Boris Becker in 1986!

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