‘Novak Djokovic chases calendar Grand Slam, the pressure is on him,’ says Holger Rune

An 18-year-old Holger Rune has passed 330 rivals on the ATP ranking list since the start of the season. Holger kicked off the action with back-to-back Challenger titles and backed that with the first ATP quarter-final in Santiago in March. A teenager claimed consecutive Challenger titles on his beloved clay in August before heading to New York and qualifying for the US Open main draw. By the will of the tennis gods, Holger drew world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in the opening round, facing a notable rival for the first time in his young career. In March, Holger asked Novak for practice in Monte Carlo and the Serb agreed, working with the youngster during two training sessions and noticing his potential. Ahead of their US Open clash, Holger was realistic about his chances against the 20-time Major winner, although he promised to give his best and challenge Novak as much as he can. 

Holger Rune spoke about his US Open first-round clash against Novak Djokovic.

“It was kind of crazy to learn that I’m going to face world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in the opening round. He’s an incredible player and a legend. I believe I have the level to play against everyone on Tour, so it will be an exciting match for me. Novak was so kind to me in March, and we organized two intensive practice sessions, with both hitting on a high level. It was a great experience. I think his consistency is incredible, how he just keeps hitting the ball in the same spot at a different pace. That was probably the most impressive thing. I have been here for a couple of days now, and it has been great. This is where I want to be and what I want to do for the rest of my life. Novak has a lot to play for in this tournament. He can win four Majors in one year, so there’s obviously pressure on him. But of course, he knows that and how to deal with it.

I have a lot of belief in myself even though I’m up against world No. 1. Many players would just say go out there, have fun, get the experience and enjoy the moment. Of course, I will do that, but my goal is not just to play here. My goal is to win this tournament, even many times. Maybe 90% of people would probably say that’s unrealistic right now, but I have to believe in myself. I’m improving my game regularly, thanks to my coach and my mom. I’m really working hard for this. I’m a real fighter on the court. I will try to do as best as possible, fight for each point and stay there for as long as possible. Of course, Novak is a huge favorite, but it’s going to be fun, and I just want to go out there and really do my best,” Holger Rune said.