PARIS (Reuters) – Danish teenager Holger Rune is aiming to become the world’s best player and his results at the French Open suggest that one of the sport’s most exciting prospects is on the right track.
Rune dropped just eight games in a devastating performance against Swiss Henri Laaksonen on Thursday to set up a third- round match against Frenchman Hugo Gaston, ranked 74th in the world, in only his third Grand Slam tournament.
The Dane has yet to drop a set in his maiden senior appearance in Paris after the first two rounds, and even though he is expected to move from the outside courts to one of the main ones, Rune feels no pressure.
“Not really (intimidated) because I am experienced and I have had a few occasions playing against the French crowd,” Rune told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
“Even last week in Lyon. I know how to deal with it. To get over the matches in Lyon with the crowd being a bit harsh was good.”
He played three consecutive matches against French players there, beating them all before going out in the semi-finals to Briton Cameron Norrie.
“These two days on a small court but with a full crowd. It is great to play in front of so many people. We can more put on a show and it’s more fun,” he said.
The 19-year-old, who won his maiden tour title in Munich this month, is quickly emerging along with 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain who has taken the tennis world by storm this year with four tournament wins.
A former French Open junior champion at 16, Rune plays a mature game. Patient and extremely powerful, he has already left his imprint on this year’s tournament.
“It might happen because we are young, moving in the right direction and with a good team behind us,” he said when asked about the possibility of him and Alcaraz battling it out for the major trophies in the coming years.
“I am not at his ranking but I am coming up at my pace.”
While Alcaraz has shot up to sixth in the world, Rune has climbed more than 350 spots in the past 15 months and is now at 40th. He is guaranteed to rise higher after the French Open.
“It’s always nice to move up the rankings but my goal is not to be top 30,” Rune said with a big smile. “It is to be number one.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ed Osmond)