Novak Djokovic explains why ‘nice guy’ Holger Rune reminds him of himself

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune
Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune after the Paris Masters final

Fit physically, great on defense, an excellent counter-puncher and aggressive of the returns are just some of the qualities that Novak Djokovic have highlighted from Holger Rune ahead of their Italian Open clash.

Djokovic and Rune will meet for a third time on the ATP Tour on Wednesday and if their previous encounter is anything to go by then fans are in for a treat.

The first clash came in the first round of the 2021 US Open with Djokovic winning in four sets, but Rune turned the tables in the final at the Paris Masters last year as he stunned the tennis great 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to win the biggest title of his career.

And the Dane has continued his rise since then with many describing him as the future of the sport along with Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.

Djokovic is certainly a fan of the 20-year-old and believes there are a lot similarities between himself and Rune.

“He kind of reminds me [of me] a little bit, the way he plays. Really fit physically, great defense, but also great counter-puncher,” the 22-time Grand Slam winner said.

“He can hurt you from both forehand and backhand side. Really solid serve. Aggressive returns. Just all-around player on all surfaces. Particularly on clay I think he finds himself really comfortable playing. He played finals of Monaco, was really close to win the title there. He’s in very good form and I look forward to a challenge. I think it’s going to be a very physical match.”

He continued: “Even though he’s really young, I know his game quite well. He’s been on the Tour now for last few years playing some great tennis, particularly in the last I would say six to eight months.

“He’s been really establishing himself as a top player. He’s a top-10 player, deservedly so. He’s been playing some really high-quality tennis. He’s one of the hardest workers out there. Nice guy. I get along well with him. On the court obviously we certainly want to win against each other.”

When Rune was told how complimentary the world No 1 was about him, he was naturally delighted.

“It’s a good thing I think. Novak, obviously he has an amazing career,” he said. “But yeah, I’m feeling better and better coming into Roland Garros. I feel like I’m getting closer to my best level. Still a few things that I feel like I can do better, which is nice because I still have time.”

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