The great anticipation that built ahead of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2023 quarterfinal match between Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune was to be satisfied by a dramatic match. The 20 year-old Dane defeated the world number one for the second time in his career after last autumn’s final in Paris Bercy 6-2 4-6 6-2.
Before the match, Djokovic had spent a great deal of words to prize his younger opponent, going as far as to say he sees a lot of himself in him, and today we could tell. Rune played a solid baseline tennis, defended greatly and hit stunning winners. On the contrary, Djokovic did not shine on the day, with a faulty performance, possibly explained also by the medical time out he called during the match.
It was a stormy start the one of Rune. Strong of his self-confidence, the Dane forced a high rhythm to the match and it looked like something was off with the defending champion. Djokovic’s body language was not right, his shoulders were low, his tennis was not there. The Serb missed a lot, especially on the forehand side, but on the other hand Rune played majestically to put his rival on the ropes.
Djokovic called for the trainer and was given some medication, which seemed to kick in for the second set. The world number one looked more like himself and started to be more consistent, forcing the Dane to go for more and eventually miss more too. Rune had another battle to as he started arguing with the umpire and lost his focus and temper.
The first seed broke and as the sky started seeing more and more raindrops falling on the Campo Centrale, he served to bring the sets to a tie. Rune showed how much of a fighter he is a broke back after a spectacular game including a sensational point.
Rain got harder and the match was forced to a stop with Rune down 0-30 on his own serve. When the two returned to the court, Djokovic won two fabulous points to break the Dane once again and force a decider.
Rune was not to give in, though. As the third set started, he immediately broke Djokovic and kept playing at high level, leaving no ball get past him and attacking at every short ball he was given. “Nole” tried to come back, but a second break looked like a sentence on the match. From 4-0, Rune held his serve and closed the match at the first chance.