Holger Rune has been among teenagers to beat this season, winning multiple Futures and Challenger titles to crack the top-150. In August, the Dane claimed back-to-back Challenger crowns before changing the surface and qualifying for the US Open main draw.
Facing world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in the opening round, Rune claimed one set in a 6-1, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 loss in two hours and 15 minutes, giving his best before starting to struggle physically in sets three and four. After the match, Novak spoke with Holger in the locker room, praising his effort and understanding what he was going through.
Djokovic blasted 17 aces but struggled a bit on the second serve to gave serve away twice. On the other hand, Rune was far from that pace in his games, losing serve eight times and ending his first US Open campaign on the first obstacle.
Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune met for the first time in the US Open opening round.
"We had a little chat in the locker room. It's an emotional moment for Holger, and it's not easy to see that. He's really sad, and I understand that, as I have been through that.
I just told him that he handled himself exceptionally well. He did not want to stop and retire. I thought he's going to stop at the end of the third set. He just kept going with dignity and played the fourth. He deserved my respect.
He's still very young, 18 years old. He's got plenty of time ahead of him, and I'm sure we're going to see a lot of him in the future. I got to say it's never nice to finish a match like that. Holger deserves a big round of applause.
It's unfortunate. I was trying to feel the ball out there. It was not my best performance, but he played well. Also, I did not serve well in the decisive moments of the second set. After that, it's difficult to talk about the match, as he could not move much.
It happened to me when I was younger. You could see he struggled a lot, and I feel for him. I'm sure we'll see a lot of Holger in the future," Novak Djokovic said.