No doubt about it, Holger Rune is a player on the rise, and one who is destined to do big things in the sport. But at the moment, Grand Slam quarter-finals are the wall he cannot seem to hurdle.
Rune has topped out there twice in two months, in Paris last month and now London, and is now 0-3 lifetime in major quarter-finals. Nevertheless, the losses are likely mere speed bumps for a player that appears to be racing to the top of the sport.
That doesn’t make losing any less frustrating, however…
After putting forth a flat performance against Casper Ruud in the last eight at Roland-Garros in early June, the 20-year-old Dane told it like it is.
“I just wasn’t there the first two sets,” he said. No one who took their seats inside Court Philippe-Chatrier to watch that contest would disagree.
Wednesday’s 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-4 loss to Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon was different, but still ultimately another failed examination for the Dane, who will go back to the drawing board and come out hungrier for his next bit at the apple.
“I have to be better to take my chances”
To call Rune’s grass-court season anything other than a success would be a mistake. The Dane entered with zero career wins on grass and finished with his first Wimbledon quarter-final – a colossal step, and just a beginning.
But Rune was in no mood to celebrate after his loss to Alcaraz; instead he wanted to figure out what he could do better next time.
Rune said his biggest regret, other than not feeling physically well as the match started (more on that later), was his lack of opportunism in the contest. To be fair, Alcaraz was in fine form from start to finish, not giving his friend and rival much, but the world No 6 knows the only way to get opportunities in high-stakes matches is to create them from scratch.
“I think I’ve learned that no matter what the circumstances is, I have to commit full to my game,” Rune told reporters after the match. “I don’t think I did 100 percent today. I let him take advantage of I think too many points. When he has the chance to take advantage, he’s amazing.
“I have to be better to take my chances. When I have like a free ball, go full.”
Under the weather
It didn’t help the Dane that he wasn’t feeling 100 percent on Wednesday at Wimbledon. Whether it be inexperience, nerves, fatigue – he didn’t elaborate – Rune will need to find a way to feel like he’s on top of the world when his next Grand Slam quarter-final commences.
“I didn’t feel the best in today’s match, but I did my best not to disappoint the crowd,” he said. “I tried to fight until the end… Didn’t feel as I feel the other days when I woke up this morning. But it’s a part of it. I had to do my best and see if I had a chance.”
To Rune’s credit, he certainly looked ready to play from the start of Wednesday’s contest, but gradually faded as Alcaraz’s confidence grew.
“He gained more confidence from that set,” he said. “I didn’t. I think if I maybe won the first set, could have looked different maybe in the second set. But I didn’t.
“He gained the momentum and started to play better.”