Holger Rune is all of 19 and the Dane is on top of the world. In an incredible come back he has won the Rolex Paris Masters the biggest title of his career, by defeating the defending champion Novak Djokovic in two hours 32 minutes 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
He was stunned when, on his second championship point, after a short rally Djokovic netted a volley. Rune collapsed to the court on his back as he soaked in the rapturous applause from the huge crowd at Bercy Arena. Rune set a few milestones with this amazing victory.
“It's quite incredible,” Rune said. “To stay here with the trophy, it's an amazing feeling. Something that was tough to expect, you know, starting the week off having three match points down. Then now to be able to be here with this beautiful trophy is absolutely amazing feeling.
“I really tried to stay in the moment, because I feel like I couldn't, you know, just tell myself that it's not acceptable to lose games. You know, I just had to accept it, because Novak, he's obviously an amazing player, amazing athlete. So, I have to accept that he's going to break me and I just had to move on after that, try to see if I can get a chance in his serving game. I really stayed in the moment.
“After I got broken in the third, I was there. I tried to make him play on every return, was good enough to get the break. After that, you know, at 3-All, 4-All, 5-All, and then everything is open. As you saw in the end it was, you know, very open.”
With this win he has done something no other man has done on the regular tour (putting aside the year end championships) since the computer rankings start in August 1973 and that is to beat five top ten players in as many days at the same tournament. He is also the youngest man to win this event since Boris Becker in 1986 and on top of all that he has become the newest member of the world’s top ten… and the first Danish man to achieve that.
But ask him what the number one highlight was for him for the week and it was to beat one of his heroes.
“To beat Novak today, I would say,” he said with a smile across his face. “To be able to beat him in such an occasion, as I said, in the final is probably the most, you know, the best feeling of this whole week.
“Of course, I take it step by step. It was also very important for me to beat Felix and Alcaraz and these guys. But still, to be able to beat Novak on such an occasion, and he's probably one of the greatest we have ever had in this sport, it's a crazy feeling to be able to beat him in this final. I would say the final.”
Rune joins Carlos Alcaraz as two teenagers in the top ten and the last time there were two teenagers in the top ten was May 2007 and they were Novak and Andy Murray.
Djokovic is full of admiration for the teenager who he knows quite well and has practiced with him a lot on all surfaces. He says Holger reminds him of himself a bit. However, he was frustrated and not being able to capitalise on many chances, especially when he was up 3-1 in the final set and had sic break back points to push thigs into a final set tiebreak.
“His fighting spirit was great,” Djokovic said. “You know, he stayed composed also mentally all the way to the last shot. For somebody who is so young to show this composure and maturity in the big match like this is very impressive. He's had a week of his life, I mean, winning against four or five top-10 players, you know, it's quite impressive.
“He deserved it. You know, I had so many chances. I mean, all sets. Early in the second again, like the last two matches. Love-40, didn't use that. Just missed by little the backhand down the line passing shot Love-40. 30-40, incredible get he had from my smash. Just like one of these moments where match goes one way or the other way.
“I thought that if I would break his serve there, you know, I would keep the momentum going, but he managed to turn around. Again, the crowd got on his side. Lifted him up. But very exciting match. You know, had my chances. Had a break in the third, 30-Love. He was brave. He went for some shots. I was not active enough I think with my feet. Some break chances. Just some uncharacteristic mistakes.
“It is what it is. You win some; some you lose. I could have easily lost the match against Tsitsipas, but I won. This time I didn't. That's okay. It was a very good week.”
The doubles title went to Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski who also end the year as the No1 team, they beat Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 7-6, 6-4.