June 25, 2024

For the time being at least, Carlos Alcaraz remains the only true wunderkind of men’s tennis: the only one of the talented young male players coming through in the wake of the Big Three to have won a Major, let alone reach world #.1.

That is because Holger Rune, who is arguably the only other young male player to match Alcaraz for talent, is yet to develop the stamina and other physical attributes to go with all that talent.

Like Alcaraz, Rune is only 20, but he had still looked like a genuine contender for the French Open title this year because he had enjoyed such a spectacular clay-court season going into Roland Garros.

He reached finals in Monte Carlo and Rome and won the title in Munich, when he came back seemingly from the dead (or at least match-points down) against Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands to win the title on a deciding-set tie-break.

However, even more impressive than that tennis resurrection was Rune’s defeat of Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal in Rome, when he played probably the most outstanding tennis seen by any young male player other than Alcaraz in the last year.

That performance was hugely impressive for two main reasons. First, after taking the first set 6-2 with relative ease, Rune then withstood the inevitable Djokovic comeback in the second set (which Djokovic eventually won 6-4) to take the third set 6-2, again with relative ease.

Secondly, and even more importantly, in the process Rune made the great Serb look, perhaps for the first time ever, every one of his 36 years.

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