Holger Rune: Working Hard On Mental, Physical Aspects Of His Game

Holger Rune (photo: Florian Heer)

WASHINGTON, August 17, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Although World No. 29 Holger Rune was eliminated in the opening round of the Western & Southern Open by 11th-ranked Cameron Norrie 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 in a hard-fought battle that lasted two hours and 34 minutes, the 19-year-old rising star from Denmark continues to work hard and overall seems happy on the court – even if his results don’t always reflect it.

Rune advanced to the second round in Montreal last week and was making his Cincinnati debut against Norrie on Monday. He’s enjoying a breakthrough season, which has included winning his first tour-level title in Munich. Rune is currently in fourth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race to Milan as he attempts to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals for the second straight year.

After struggling with altitude in Europe, he came back down to earth with the start of the North American hard-court season. His recent run to the third round at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. was welcome relief after losing seven straight going back to his quarterfinal journey at the French Open, which included a four-set win over then-World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas and a dramatic loss to Top-10 foe Casper Ruud.

Rune has spent time working on both the mental and physical aspects of his game.

“Obviously, the ranking changed a lot after that, so I was kind of like ‘supposed’ to win every match because all of a sudden, I’m ranked higher than my opponents,” Rune said during a recent mixed zone interview with reporters, including Tennis Tour Talk, at the Citi Open. “I was not really used to that because I was coming from the lower rankings, but it’s a new step. I think everyone has to go through this and if you want to go up – as I want to – you’ve got to be able to manage a lot of things.”

Tennis TourTalk asked Rune what he’s learned about himself after winning his first ATP Tour title in Munich.

“It obviously gave me a lot of confidence and belief that I could compete on this level and also beat the big guys,” he said. “I’ve shown that a couple of times and it gives me a big. Boost to someday win the big titles.”

Rune spoke about improving mentally and physically, saying: “I’ve been a lot better, physically. At the French Open, I was able to play four sets against some of the best players in the world without feeling cramped or even tired. Of course, you feel a little tired, but I was managing to save my energy and play well in the right moments. I’ve improved a lot, both mentally and physically.”

A year ago, Rune played on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Novak Djokovic in the first round of the US Open at night, losing to the former World No. 1 in four sets, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-1. Tennis TourTalk asked Rune what that experience was like as a young professional.

“At that time, it was the best experience of my life. I was 18-years-old and just going in front of the biggest crowd in tennis history and playing the greatest player, No. 1 in the world. It was just a great experience. I managed to win one set. I kind of died a little bit [afterward],” he recalled with a hint of laughter in his voice. “I really saw how Novak is the best, so it was a great pleasure to play him.”

Rune remembers the crowd response after he won the second set. “It was unbelievable. I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he said. “I was just going out there and giving it my best. I think the American people and all the people around the world showed me amazing love. I appreciated it so much. I tried to fight for every point the whole match and make it entertaining.”

Emil Ruusuvuori: Beating good players is great for confidence

Tennis TourTalk recently caught up with Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori at the Citi Open after he defeated World No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland. The 23rd-year-old, who is ranked 44th, reached the third round in Washington, D.C., then beat Stan Wawrinka in the first-round last week at Montreal before losing to eventual-finalist Hurkacz in a rematch.

Asked if he finds himself playing up to the level of his opponent, such as Hurkacz, Ruusuvuori told Tennis TourTalk: “We all know how good of a player he is and you have to play your best to beat him. I did that. I took my chance, I hung tough.”

Ruusuvuori said his immediate goals are to win his first ATP Tour title plus “to play a lot of matches to gain more experience at this level.

“I’ve been able to play a lot. It’s great for the confidence [beating Hurkacz]. Every match you play is a step forward. You can make some progress.”

Finally, Ruusuvuori was asked what it’s like to be the most well-known and top-ranked Finnnish player, in a country that’s not known for producing a lot of tennis players.

“It’s nice to represent the country,” he said. “We don’t have too many tournaments in Finland. Sometimes, I get to play Davis Cup at home, but otherwise most of the tournaments are abroad. It’s nice to carry the flag.”

Is Ruusuvuori easily recognized when he’s home in Helsinki, Finland’s capital city?

“On the court people recognize me,” he admitted, “but outside the court, no. I’m not like that yet.”


Jannik Sinner celebrated his 21st birthday with a 6-7 (9), 6-4, 7-6 (6) win over Thanasi Kokkinakis that lasted three hours and 17 minutes at the Western & Southern Open Tuesday afternoon.

By the numbers

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray of Great Britain scored his first win of the US Open Series swing after beating Swiss revival Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-5 in the 22nd meeting at the Western & Southern Open Monday afternoon. Murray had previously lost in the opening round of both the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. (Mikael Ymer) and the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Montreal (Taylor Fritz).

“Quotable …”

“I felt I was feeling good like in Madrid. I felt pretty good during the grass. I got unfortunate with the ab injury, which was not bad but it was enough to sort of disrupt me in the buildup to that.

“In terms of how I pulled up after matches and stuff has been the best I have gelt in a really long time. So that’s good. I would like my tennis to be better at times, because I’m still convinced that it can be better than where it is right now.

“It has not been easy these last few years to stay fit and healthy and play enough tennis to get matches to learn from and to build confidence and to get my body sort of physically like robust enough to compete week in, week out. That’s a positive thing that I got to play lots of matches or more matches this year. Hopefully, I can continue that through the end of the season.”

Andy Murray of Great Britain, ranked 47th, following his 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-5 win over Stan Wawrinka in the first round of the Western & Southern Open Monday afternoon.