Rune bests Sinner in Saturday night Monte Carlo epic

Rune bests Sinner in Saturday night Monte Carlo epic

by Tom Grant

Last updated

Holger Rune became the first teenager since Rafael Nadal in 2006 to reach the final of the Monte-Carlo Masters.

That came after an eventful comeback win over Jannik Sinner in a rain disturbed match on Court Rainier III. The young Dane had to battle a poor start, the weather and the crowd to come back from losing the opening set to win 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 in a match that was suspended midway due to the rain. He will now look to emulate his hero Rafael Nadal who beat Roger Federer as a 19-year-old 17 years ago. It was a solid start to the match by both players as they comfortably held serve.

Prior to the semi-final, Rune had only lost serve once in his 19 service games during the Monte Carlo week. However, in turbulent seaside court conditions, the 19-year-old struggled to settle in the wind and Sinner marched his way to a comfortable 5-1 lead by breaking the Rune serve twice. It was dark times, not just for the young Dane but for the Monte Carlo skies as the heavens threatened to open and halt the match.

That appeared to be just what Rune wanted as he faced set point. But after discussion with the umpire Carlos Bernardes, Sinner was allowed to serve out and take the first set 6-1. Sinner had played near faultless tennis in the opener with just four unforced errors to his name. But as the second set started, he made more than that in just the opening two games, as Rune broke and consolidated to lead 3-0.

Sinner’s level had flatlined and it looked like he was now the happier of the players when Bernardes suspended play due to the court lines being slippery. The players were off court for around an hour and the break seemed to do Sinner well as he got himself on to the second set scorecard by holding serve. It could have got even better for the Italian as he forced Rune to fend off his first break points of the set as the Italian trailed 1-4.

Any thoughts of a decider were put in temporary hold moments later as Sinner reeled off eight points in a row to break serve with Rune serving for the set, much to the delight of the partisan Saturday night Monte Carlo crowd. Rune then hit back, getting a glimpse of two set points on the Sinner serve. But he failed to capitalise and the Italian levelled up at 5-5.

It was breathless stuff and living up to the pre-match billing, with no one inside Rainier able to take their eyes off the electrifying tennis on show. Rune played the pantomime villain as he continued his running battle with the crowd and it seemed to pump him up as he fired his way to eight of the last 10 points of the set to break the Sinner serve again and level up the match at one set all.

The third set started in cagey fashion but it came to life with Sinner on serve in game four as a sumptuous Rune drop shot set him up for a winner and a break point. Sinner found his first ace of the match to snuff it out but faced two more as the duo traded winners, net chords and line balls as the Dane pestered and probed for the elusive break of serve.

However, Sinner held strong and Rune did well to refocus as solid holds by both had the match finely poised at 3-3. The minor lull again faded for box office with the point of the match, a Rune lob-volley forcing Sinner to scramble to the back of the court chasing the ball, only to find a winner with his back to the net. If that was the good then next came the bad as Sinner felt Rune had aimed for him with the ball for the second time in the match.

He channelled any anger from that incident to fight off two Rune break points before the Danish youngster held to love to lead 5-4. Throughout the third, it had been Rune putting on all the pressure on the Sinner serve and he did so again as Sinner made it 5-5. An otherworldly net volley by Rune followed by a Sinner net ball gave Rune a match point out of nowhere and he closed out an epic after Sinner found the net again.

Rune, who reaches his second Masters 1000 final, will look to add the clay court title in Monte Carlo to the one he won in Munich in 2022.


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