In rainy Rome Wednesday, Holger Rune overcame defending champion Novak Djokovic in a three set quarter-final action at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
The 20-year-old Dane prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to seal his second straight ATP Masters 1000 win against the world no.1.
Novak was broken twice in the opening set, which he lost after 28 minutes. The weather forced play to be suspended at 2-6, 5-4, 30/0 with Rune serving to stay in the second set. The six-time titlist clinched it immediately after the play resumed.
However, the seventh seed recomposed himself to produce a high-class third set, and broke Novak’s serve twice more to book semi-final spot in two hours and 19 minutes.
“This is probably the coldest and wettest tournament I’ve ever played here in Rome,” Djokovic said. “In these kind of conditions, it’s very difficult to get the ball past him. He’s very, very fast, very quick. Great anticipation. Just a very talented, dynamic player, all-around player. He was just better. He played too good for me for most part of the match. He kept his nerves and deserved to win.”
Match statistics: aces (4-3), double faults (3-2), winners (22-26), unforced errors (35-15), total points won (70-85).
Next stop for Novak is Paris. The 2023 French Open will be held from May 28 to June 11. Djokovic has won Coupe des Mousquetaires twice (2016 and 2021). Last year he fell to Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros quarter-final (2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-7).
“I know I can always play better,” Nole added. “I always like my chances in Grand Slams against anybody on any surface, best-of-five. Let’s see how it goes.”