Watch: Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune keep their Monte Carlo tradition

Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune will seek the first title of the season next week

by Jovica Ilic
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Watch: Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune keep their Monte Carlo tradition
© Justin Setterfield / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Top-10 stars Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune keep their Monte Carlo tradition alive, training in the Principality ahead of the third Masters 1000 event of the season. Three years ago, the 17-year-old Dane texted the legend, inviting him to train together in Monte Carlo.

Novak said yes, and they forged a nice friendship. Novak and Holger will chase the first title of the season next week after not playing at their best in the opening three months of the season. World no. 1 Djokovic is 8-3 in 2024, falling in the Australian Open semi-final and experiencing a shocking Indian Wells loss to Luca Nardi.

Djokovic skipped Miami and entered Monte Carlo, seeking his third title in the Principality, the first since 2015.

Novak Djokovic, Monte Carlo 2023© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Serb played his first Monte Carlo match 18 years ago against world no.

1 Roger Federer, losing in three sets. Novak lost two finals in 2009 and 2012 to Rafael Nadal before ousting the king of clay in the 2013 final, ending Rafa's incredible streak in the Principality. Djokovic fell to Federer in the 2014 semi-final before lifting another trophy 12 months later, beating Nadal in the semi-final.

Suddenly, Novak lost the ground at his home event since 2016, winning eight out of 15 matches and reaching only two quarter-finals, none since 2019. A year ago, Djokovic lost to Lorenzo Musetti in the third round 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in just under three hours.

Lorenzo came from 6-4, 4-2 down, producing a notable comeback and emerging over the top with a single break in the decider. Novak served at 80% in the opener and almost dropped it after getting broken two times. The more experienced player stole the young gun's serve three times, opening a 5-2 gap and earning two set points on the return in game eight.

Lorenzo saved them and held to prolong the battle. Musetti saved the third set point on the return in game nine with a forehand winner and landed another to pull the break back and reduce the deficit. Djokovic closed the set with another break at 5-4, landing a smash winner and moving in front.

They battled for 70 minutes in the second set and made it memorable! There were nine breaks in 12 games, with the young Italian breaking the legend five times en route to 7-5.

Novak Djokovic, Monte Carlo 2023© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune trained ahead of Monte Carlo.

Novak grabbed three straight breaks and landed a backhand winner in the sixth game for 4-2, moving closer to the finish line. Lorenzo broke back in game seven and delivered another return game for a 5-4 advantage, serving for the set in game ten.

Musetti hit a loose forehand, losing serve and keeping Djokovic in the set. However, Novak lost serve at love in game 11, falling 6-5 behind and dropping the set when Lorenzo held at 15 in the next one. They experienced a rain delay, and the Italian grabbed a break at 3-3 when they returned.

Musetti denied a break point in the tenth game and seized the fourth match point with a service winner for a career-best victory.

Holger Rune, Monte Carlo 2023© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Holger Rune has already lost seven matches in 2024, falling to Grigor Dimitrov in the Brisbane final at the beginning of the year.

The Dane fell in the semi-final in Montpellier and Acapulco and lost to Daniil Medvedev in the Indian Wells quarter-final. Holger did not feel well in Miami, taking only two games and hoping for a better run in Monte Carlo.

The young Dane played in the final in the Principality a year ago, giving his best but falling to Andrey Rublev 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 after two hours and 34 minutes. Rune had a chance to celebrate his second Masters 1000 title, taking the opener and leading 4-1 in the decider before earning a break chance.

Andrey denied it, held and grabbed two breaks by the end of the duel, sealing the deal and becoming a Masters 1000 champion for the first time. The Russian landed 30 winners and 23 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and welcoming 50 unforced mistakes from his opponent.

Rublev faced eight break points and lost serve four times. Rune sprayed nine double faults and played against 19 break points, losing serve six times and settling with the runner-up prize.

Holger Rune, Monte Carlo 2023© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Djokovic and Rune met on clay in Rome last year, a couple of weeks after practicing together in Monte Carlo.

The young Dane produced a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory in two hours and 19 minutes after a rain delay, moving into the semi-final and remaining on the title course. Djokovic did not play at his best, struggling physically and losing ground in the decider.

Novak broke Holger two times and experienced five breaks, struggling to follow the rival's pace in sets one and three. Two rivals could meet in the quarter-final in Monte Carlo next week if they pass the opening two obstacle, seeking a good result after lifting no ATP titles in the opening three months of the season.

Novak Djokovic Holger Rune Monte Carlo
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