Rune: I have my goals and they're very high

 - Simon Cambers

The 2019 RG junior champion has ambitions - and the confidence and belief to realise them

Holger Rune, R1, Roland-Garros 2022Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Whatever Holger Rune achieves in the rest of his career, and the chances are that the Dane is headed for a lot of success, Roland-Garros will always have a special place in his heart.

Not just because it was the scene of his first Grand Slam win, a brilliant 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(4) victory over No.14 seed Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday, but also because it was where he first lifted a Grand Slam junior title.

A great start

Rune won the junior title in Paris in 2019, beating American Toby Kodat in the final. It was the start of a love affair that shows no sign of ending.

“I have unbelievable memories,” Rune told of his title win three years ago. “It was my first junior Grand Slam title.

“Actually it's funny, I still look back at it and think it's an unbelievable moment now for my career, even though it's juniors.

“This title kind of means more inside to me than any other title ahead. Of course, Munich (where last month he won his first ATP title) was as big, I feel like, but still, you know, to be able to win a junior slam is all juniors' goal.

“It was a huge relief and to do it here is very special and you know, this is one of my favourite tournaments and I'm happy.”

Holger Rune, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

'Not satisfied yet'

Rune has big plans. A former junior world No.1, he’s raced into the world’s top 50 on the men's tour in no time (he was ranked outside the top 300 this time last year and is now No.40 in the world) and he’s not afraid to say he wants to hit the very top as a professional.

“I've always had a very strong belief in myself,” said Rune, who plays Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen next.

“Actually, when you're there, you think it's going very slow. And then when you kind of look at it, it's going very fast. You know, I just played pros, like two or three years and already inside the top 40, it's good.

“But I'm always trying to seek for better and I have my goals and they're very high. But this is what keeps me motivated every day also. And also my dream is to be the best in the world. And there's still a long way. So that's fine, I'm not satisfied yet.”

Rune had already experienced a big stage, having played against Novak Djokovic at the US Open last year, when he took the first set off the world No.1.

Staying focused

Full of confidence after his title win in Munich, Rune went into his match with Shapovalov on Tuesday feeling he could win and he produced an almost nerveless display to advance to the second round.

“My game-plan was to move him a lot around because we all know how dangerous he can be when he has the time to hit the ball,” Rune said. “And I was really trying to take time away from him, to rush him a little bit and then keep making him play an extra ball.

“Because sometimes he can miss a few shots here and there and maybe I can get the opportunity, which I did today, and then go and take it. And this worked out very well.”

After his win over Shapovalov, expectations will grow for Rune to go deep into the draw and though the belief is there, the teenager is wise enough to admit that he cannot look too far ahead, given his inexperience at Grand Slam level.

“I think I can only kind of look for the next match, because every match is so tough and they are very long matches,” said Rune, who is competing in just the third Grand Slam main draw of his career.

“Don't look too far ahead because just today feels like a long match, even though it's only three sets. I didn't play a lot of best of five set matches so I just have to focus on each point, each set at a time and let's see how far I can go.”