MATCH POINT: Andrey Rublev defeats Holger Rune, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5

Holger Rune’s future is as bright as the sun, but as the 19-year-old discovered, it’s best not to look too far ahead.

At 5-5 in the third set of Sunday’s Monte Carlo Masters final, Rune could have let a defensive lob from Andrey Rublev harmlessly bounce on the red clay. Instead, he took the ball out of the air—and his ensuing overhead smash found the net.

The only silver lining from this gaffe could have been this: don’t do that again. But what did Rune do on the very next point? He took another defensive lob from Rublev out of the air—and another point was lost when the ball met the net.

It wasn’t the only reason Rune earned silver in Monte Carlo, but it will be the highlight, so to speak, of a rather stunning collapse.


Rublev was also a finalist in Monte Carlo in 2021.

Rublev was also a finalist in Monte Carlo in 2021.

Rune, who broke serve to win the first set, and then broke serve in Rublev’s first service game in the decider, had a 4-1 lead and was in total control. The Dane withstood the Russian’s barrage of baseline artillery, but was hardly a counterpuncher, giving as good as he got. He saved multiple break points to earn the 4-1 advantage, seemingly taking Rublev's best and final punch.

But Rune eventually punched himself out, playing a sloppy service game at 2-4, and then compounded the stumble with the aforementioned botches. While the two were nearly equal in the winner department—Rublev with 34, Rune with 29—the teenager struck 22 unforced errors to his opponent’s eight.

Perhaps feeling the pressure of the moment for the first time, Rune double faulted at 5-5, 30-40 (a point after hitting a scintillating a down-the-line backhand winner), and Rublev suddenly had his first ATP Masters 1000 title in sight.

With a drama-free hold, Rublev snapped a two-final losing streak in Masters tournaments. Rune nearly became the first teenager to win Monte Carlo since Rafael Nadal—who did so twice, in 2005 and 2006—but came up just short. Perhaps some overhead lessons from Rafa, one of the best ever at the shot, are in order.


"This moment has been a long time coming for the 25-year-old Russian," said Tennis Channel's Chris Eubanks, who knows a thing or do about delayed gratification. Rublev had 12 titles to his name heading into Monte Carlo, and possessed an explosive game that can thwart anyone on any given day.

But he finally put it all together, in this level of competition, on the red clay along the Mediterranean. His week included three three-set wins, along with a straight-set win over compatriot Karen Khachanov in a round-of-16 slugfest.

His ability to fight back against Rune, who we'll also surely be hearing from again on the Road to Roland Garros, was by far his most impressive achievement.

"You're too freaking young, man!" a smiling Rublev said afterward. "You already have one 1000 title—at least give me one time to win it."