Holger Rune picks up Serbian Open upset after training with Novak Djokovic

Holger Rune plays a shot

Denmark’s Holger Rune has dished out the first big upset at the Serbian Open knocking Houston semi-finalist Cristian Garin out in Belgrade.

Rune had hit some balls with Novak Djokovic over the weekend before taking on the Chilean.

Djokovic shouldn’t lack for sparring partners in Belgrade with players no doubt queuing for the honour of tuning up with the World No 1.

On Monday, Djokovic was spotted training with Austrian Dominic Thiem who is making a comeback after a long injury layoff.

Thiem suffered a COVID-19 positive which has hampered his return to the court.

The Austrian is also a potential quarterfinal opponent for Djokovic if he can claw his way past Australian John Millman and Serbian seventh seed Miomir Kecmanovic.

Rune is in the other half of the draw and took down Garin, who sports the better clay court record of the two, to book a place in the Round of 16 in Belgrade.

The Dane eliminated the fifth seed 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and 25 minutes putting in a dominant performance from start to finish.

Heading into the first round match in Belgrade Garin sported the same number of clay-court ATP Tour titles (5) as Rune had tour-level match wins on the surface.

Rune had already staged an upset in Monte Carlo as well knocking Aslan Karatsev out in the first round.

The 18-year-old also won the Sanremo event on the ATP Challenger tour earlier this month.

Rune made sure that the pressure remained firmly on Garin throughout their clash.

The Dane earned 17 break points and converted six of them on his way to a first career win over Garin.

Rune is at a career-high No. 72 in the ATP Rankings and looking to move up after he won 58 per cent of his return points on his Belgrade debut to stun the Chilean.

In other action, Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene clawed past Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 after two hours and 38 minutes.

Bedene will play sixth seed Fabio Fognini or Marco Cecchinato for a place in the Serbian Open quarter-finals.

Djokovic will open his tournament against a compatriot with wildcard Hamad Medjedovic meeting Laslo Djere to determine his opponent in the Round of 16.