Holger Rune loses his cool but resets for epic Rome win over Novak Djokovic

Holger Rune during a match

During his quarter-final match against Novak Djokovic at the Italian Open, Holger Rune and umpire Mohamed Lahyani got into an intense row over a disputed line call.

With a 6-2 opening set victory over the number-one player in the world, Rune had made a strong start to the match.

However, he appeared to go off the boil after a contentious moment in the second set.

Rune, who had serve and a 40-30 lead with the second set yet to see a break at that point though Djokovic was 3-2 up on the scoreboard, halted play because he believed deep ball delivered by the Serb from the baseline had missed the line long.

Umpire Lahyani got out of his chair to inspect the mark since the Italian Open does not employ an electronic line-calling system like many others on the ATP Tour.

He declared it to be in, much to Rune’s shock, who smashed his towel to the ground in fury after pleading his case with the umpire.

Rune’s disposition was not improved when rain started pouring, and Djokovic produced his finest rally during the match to secure a break point. After that, Rune’s failed smash gave Djokovic a 4-2 advantage.

At the change of ends, Rune spoke to the umpire again and later requested a medical timeout.

“You’re an absolute joke man,” Rune told the umpire.

“Do you get punished when you make a mistake? Because when we get punished we get fined.”

Rune could not be calmed by the chair umpire and the tournament supervisor had to be called in to mediate the dispute.

The young Dane, expressed his belief that umpires are giving him a bad name because he can’t help but lose his cool over what he perceives as bad calls.

“It’s always the umpire who makes me look like the bad guy,” said Rune to the supervisor.

Djokovic would take the second set after a rain delay, although Rune managed to break back to make it 5-4 to Djokovic before play was suspended.

The world No 1 had break/set points in hand when play was called off and clinched the set upon their return to court.

However, the break also seemed to allow Rune to calm down and refocus and he quickly established a big lead in the third set, winning the first four games.

Djokovic showed great ability to hit unplayable groundstrokes out of nowhere but Rune harrassed, pushed and pressured everywhere he could and caught some of his own shots so sweetly that a Rome crowd staunchly behind Djokovic had to acknowledge the No 7.

Rune saved a pair of break points while serving for the match at 5-2 up in the third set, before closing out the match on his first match point.

Djokovic had spells were he was plagued by errors and would finish with 35 to his name against his 22 winners.

Rune meanwhile struck 26 winners and missed the mark with 15 unforced errors. The Dane is only the sixth player to beat Djokovic at the Foro Italico. This is also Rune’s first win over a reigning world No 1 and his second in three meetings with Djokovic.

He will face either Casper Ruud or Francisco Cerundulo in the last four in what will be his third Masters semi-final.