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in roland garros
The video dates from 2017. Posted on Twitter on Monday, we can easily make out the young faces of Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune talking to each other in the middle of a doubles match during the Petits As de Tarbes. At that time, the two boys, then 14 years old, were not yet the uninhibited monsters that set the mood at this Roland-Garros.
If the Spaniard ended up breaking his teeth on Tuesday in the quarterfinals against Zverev (4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-7), the Dane can still dream of the semifinals as long as he gets rid of the Norwegian on Wednesday Casper Ruud, 8th player in the world. The surprising but finally logical result of a promotion to the highest level.
“At that time, Rune had better results because Alcaraz was too playful”
Five years after the Petits As double, Croatian Lovre Erceg remembers, one of the two opponents in this match won 6-2, 6-4 by the two geniuses. “Until I was 15 years old, we played many tournaments together. But afterwards, they made a big leap in their careers. I started playing against Alcaraz in U10. We immediately saw that it was out of the way. He was already very fast and used a lot of drop shots. But at that time Rune had better results because Alcaraz was too playful, ”says the one who has not seen his career take off as quickly as the Spanish and the Danish.
However, in 2022, the trend has reversed. Of the two 19-year-olds, if Rune was crowned junior world champion three years ago, it was Alcaraz who was in the big leagues before. Winner this year of two Masters 1000 (Miami, Madrid) and of the Rio and Barcelona tournaments, the Spaniard, 6th player in the world, even landed with the poster of a great outsider in Paris before being eliminated on Tuesday by the night in the quarterfinals.
Fined for homophobic comments
Unlike Alcaraz, Rune arrived more discreetly at Roland-Garros. Last year, his arrival on the circuit even caused a lot of controversy. In June 2021, during a Challenger tournament in Italy, the boy was investigated by the ATP for homophobic comments. In the semifinals against the Argentine, Rune got angry in the middle of the match and yelled at his opponent in Danish: “You’re a shitty player and you play like a fagot.”
Words that obviously caused a stir and led the Dane to calmly apologize in a press release and on Instagram. “I am very sorry if I offended anyone by using inappropriate terms. I hope that people accept my apology and, of course, that this does not happen again, “wrote Rune, finally sanctioned with a fine of 1,500 euros.
Since this incident, the boy, who trains in the South at the Mouratoglou academy, took a little more head and began to gain strength. Winner of his first ATP tournament in Munich at the end of April, the world number 40 player has gained confidence. Before taking the light from Porte d’Auteuil by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas, a finalist last year, in the round of 16. What provokes the enthusiasm of Cédric Pioline.
“There is a little less light on him than the Spanish but he is doing a magnificent journey. He is riding very strong too, there is something that he has loosened not long ago, during his victory in Munich. He is very confident, very eager. I really like his attitude, his game, that daring that he has on the court, ”explains the former French double finalist at the Grand Slam.
“He has so much energy, so much desire to act. We talk a lot about Alcaraz in this generation but Rune is a great player, who hits very hard”, adds Marc Barbier, coach of a Hugo Gastón torn to pieces in the third round by the Dane (6-3, 6-3, 6 -3) .
A breath of fresh air in tennis
Whether it’s Rune or Alcaraz, interviewed witnesses swoon over their spectacular games. The strength of youth according to Henri Leconte. “They make the game evolve because they are not afraid of anything. They serve well, go to the net and attack. They also realized that the drop shot was not a defensive shot but an attack shot. Sometimes they can be too much, but it unsettles everyone. There is recklessness, and recklessness sometimes makes the games fantastic, ”says the former Davis Cup winner.
Same emotion on the part of Cédric Pioline: “It’s great, it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s great for tennis this mix of old players installed with these young people who come and shake everything up. Whether the heist of the century is possible this year remains to be seen. Alcaraz will have to do it again next year to break the bank. But Holger Rune still has some serious arguments to make between now and Sunday to achieve his childhood dream.