WATCH: Rune played one of the ten best matches of 2022 to defeat Djokovic in Paris.


Holger Rune first proved he could hit with the game’s best when he took a set from Novak Djokovic at the US Open, but hanging with the world No. 1 in a best-of-five match proved more difficult as cramps hindered his imposing game.

The Danish teen came full circle just over 12 months later when he showed off his vastly improved stamina to defeat Djokovic and win the Rolex Paris Masters.

“I have a nutrition plan now, so I know I get what I need,” he said in an interview with Relevant Tennis. “We found out I did not get half of the sugar and salt I needed [for the matches], that is why I had meltdowns and cramps.”

Loss of conditioning threatened to derail his 2022 season when another cramping episode cropped up during a first-round loss in Australia, but Rune conquered his physical demons later that spring to not only win his first ATP title but also reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros—defeating fellow Patrick Mouratoglou Academy alum Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets along the way.

“I really did not know [things like these] could make so much difference,” he said after compiling a 20-3 record in a six-week stretch from the US Open to Paris. “My coach says that a Ferrari with no fuel is useless. He is right. So, I am much more aware now of what I eat, even though I love pepperoni pizza and ice cream!”

His revamped physicality came in handy against Djokovic in a match that earned him both a maiden Masters 1000 victory and Top 10 debut, becoming the first to beat the 21-time Grand Slam champion from a set down in a Masters final.

“It was the dream final in Paris for me,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for Novak and the results he has achieved. It's not something everyone can do. And Novak has always been very generous in terms of passing his knowledge to me. He is still a huge inspiration to me, no matter the result in Paris. The Big 3 have achieved serious records, they are just very special, each in his own way. After the win I was very happy. And now I am very happy for Novak for his Nitto ATP Finals victory. Another record to share with Roger.”

As a result of his explosive fall surge, Rune served as first alternate in Turin, and though he didn’t get to play, the world No. 11 was nominated for two ATP Awards—Newcomer of the Year and Most Improved—making him plenty motivated to keep rising in 2023.

“I am still growing, so my serve will get deadlier,” he predicted. “I am working on being more precise. When I practice with Novak, I am always impressed by his precision, including his serve. I am working on this, on my spin and a lot of other things. The serve is very important for me and this is why it has become better. Last year, I didn't pay much attention to the serve, I liked the rallies more and I was more interested in improving my strokes. But throughout the year, I have become more interested in serving better. I am studying a lot now. When you put energy in something, you always get better at it.”