Facing one of the most promising youngsters on the Tour on Tuesday night, Novak Djokovic defeated an 18-year-old Holger Rune 6-1, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 15 minutes. Thus, world no. 1 earned the 22nd consecutive victory at Majors this year, moving six wins away from a calendar Grand Slam.
Novak was not entirely pleased with his performance, especially in the second set, but he still did more than enough to dominate the other three sets and seal the deal in style. Novak was impressed by Holger's fighting spirit, mentioning that the youngster clearly struggled after the second set.
Dealing with cramps like often in his matches, Rune refused to surrender and retire in the third or fourth set, staying on the court until the end and earning Novak's respect. Going through the exact situations many times in the past, Djokovic had encouraging words for the upcoming star, supporting Holger and encouraging him to work even harder.
Novak Djokovic shared thoughts about his US Open R1 match against Holger Rune.
"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.