Holger Rune - Australian Open 2023

Holger Rune ‘ready’ for target on his back after breakout season

Holger Rune had a breakout season in 2022, becoming the first Danish man to enter the top 10 in the open era , and says he is ‘ready’ for the new challenges he will face this year.

Rune won his first three ATP titles last year, highlighted by his run to the Masters 1000 crown in Paris where he beat Novak Djokovic in the final.

On his run to the Paris title, Holger Rune became the first man to beat five top-10 opponents in a row at an ATP event (not including the ATP finals), and therefore confirmed a place in the top-10 for himself.

The 19-year-old became the third youngest active player to achieve this ranking, with only Rafael Nadal (18) and Carlos Alcaraz (18) ahead of him in this regard.

After a disappointing result at the Australian Open, where he lost to Andrey Rublev in the fourth round despite having two match points, Rune returns to the indoor courts of Montpellier.

Ahead of the event the Dane spoke about having a target on his back in 2023, “I’m ready for it. It’s going to be more like everybody who is going to play me wants to beat me even more than last year. But that’s fine. I mean, it shows that I did well and it’s a positive thing.”

He added, “Obviously it’s going to be harder matches from now on because I’m, in a way, supposed to win more matches than I was last year.”

“But, as we all know, everybody can play extremely good on the tour. And if I’m not there [at a high level], I’m going to lose. So I have to be 100 percent ready to play my best tennis in every match. And if I don’t, I have to try to find solutions and be ready to fight.”

Rune is the top seed at the ATP 250 event in southern France, and says that he enjoys being in that position, “I’m still young, so I don’t consider myself as having to win [all the time]. But obviously I’m the first [seed] of the tournament.”

“It’s a good challenge because if I want to reach my goals and reach my dreams, I’m going to have to be first seed in tournaments, so it’s good to get used to it. It’s a good feeling.”

Rune continued, “It’s better than being eighth [seed] or something. It’s different but when I played juniors, I was very often first seed so I can go back in and think how I did it there.”

The world No.9 received a bye to the second round, where he will play Marc-Andrea Huesler tomorrow. Rune will be wary of his Swiss opposition, who beat him twice last year including in the ATP 250 Sofia final.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.