Wednesday April 17, 2024

Quest for perfection double-edged sword for Rune

Holger Rune thrust himself into the conversation as a teenager in 2022 by winning three titles

February 14, 2024
The Danish tennis player Holger Rune. — AFP/File
The Danish tennis player Holger Rune. — AFP/File

BENGALURU: Holger Rune’s talent and drive are undoubted but the Dane remains something of a rough diamond heading into the meat of the 2024 season while fellow young guns Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have sparkled their way to major titles.

Observers of men’s tennis have developed something of an obsession with promising young talent as the sport negotiates the twilight of a golden era dominated by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

Rune thrust himself into the conversation as a teenager in 2022 by winning three titles, including a first Masters crown in Paris after beating four top-10 players and getting past Djokovic in the final.

Now 20, Rune has made three Grand Slam quarter-final appearances but his former junior sparring partner Alcaraz has already captured two majors while Sinner won his first at the Australian Open last month.

Rune ended his short coaching relationship with six-times major winner Boris Becker after his second-round loss to French wildcard Arthur Cazaux in Melbourne, saying he needed people around him who “have the same vision and who I can trust to achieve my goals”. Former player Jeff Greenwald, author of “The Best Tennis of Your Life” and a sports psychology consultant, said Rune may be putting too much pressure on himself.

“Rune has enjoyed some excellent early success and he’s talented, driven and is great defensively. He’s a perfectionist, which is helpful to push himself,” Greenwald told Reuters. “But I question the level of outcome pressure he puts on himself, contrasted with Alcaraz and Sinner, who seem to be more balanced and developmentally focused. “Rune has the belief and drive, but perfectionism can be a double-edged sword.”

Rune’s all-court game prompted greats such as Mats Wilander to mark him out as a future Grand Slam winner, but he had a patchy 2023, losing the Rome and Monte Carlo finals with his only title coming in a minor Munich claycourt event.

That coincided with a string of changes in his coaching set-up, splitting from, then re-engaging, then parting company again from long-time coach Lars Christensen as well as briefly working with Patrick Mouratoglou.