Holger Rune anticipates a fired-up Foro Italico crowd for Fabio Fognini clash

Holger Rune plays a shot

World No 7 Holger Rune expects an intense atmosphere at the Rome Masters when he faces Fabio Fognini in the third round.

Rune downed 18-year-old Arthur Fils 6-3, 6-3 in the clinical start to his Italian Open campaign.

The Dane has enjoyed mixed success in the clay swing; reaching the final in Monte Carlo and defending his title in Munich were the highs.

Meanwhile, one of the lows was a bitter exit to the Madrid Open, where he got on the wrong side of the crowd during a clash with a home hope.

Keen observers will no doubt be wondering if something similar might happen when Rune meets Fognini in the third round.

Fognini has enjoyed vociferous backing throughout his run after accepting a wildcard. He has bested Andy Murray and Miomir Kecmanovic to secure passage to the last 32.

Rune doesn’t mind the crowd not being on his side and expects a special experience.

“It’s going to be wild, for sure,” Rune said.

“But this is great because this is what tennis is about. You already hear the football match [atmosphere] now and this is great, it’s fun. It brings tennis to another level and I’m super excited for it.”

Rune says that he savours new experiences and challenges on the court.

“I get a little ‘wow’ when I read that,” he told SpilXperten.

“It’s probably a good thing that I don’t make those comparisons myself, but keep myself down to earth. It looks fantastic right there, but I’ve only been on the tour for two years, so I haven’t achieved a fraction of what they have yet. They are good role models. They have set the bar high, and the next generations will probably unconsciously work from that – myself included.”

“When you compare and look isolated at my development step by step, my results seem very natural… That I get a little better all the time and beat better players. I want to keep doing that. I think it’s fun to develop, and I have a lot of things I still want to get better at.

“I’m working on getting better all the time. So it’s not by chance or luck that I can do what I can do. I work hard on individual parts of my game, but also a lot on playing the tennis I like. I have a good foundation and I don’t really have any limitations, so I just have to be free and play what I want to play.

“It sounds simple, but it’s also something you have to practise. To be true to your playing style. You can’t sleep your way to big results, and at the same time you have to have fun, I think. It’s important for me to have fun. When things are going best for me, it’s when I feel calm around me and have fun. I love playing tennis, and that’s probably my biggest drive.”

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