Almost twelve months ago Holger Rune from Denmark won a junior Grand Slam down at Roland Garros weeks after he turned 16.
2019 was a massive year for the Dane, he not only won junior Roland Garros but he also became the 6th youngest player to win an ATP Challenger match since the turn of the century.
Towards the end of last year he once again made some big noise on the ITF Circuit. A day after he become junior world number one for the first time he then defeated Harold Mayot in the ITF Junior Finals.
Holger has played much of his tennis on the ITF tour but this year did play a few more ATP challenger events without a win but it’s about the experience as per his appearance in the qualifying at ATP Auckland losing 5-7 1-6 to Vasek Pospisil.
Not only is Holger tipped to go to the top but he also works with some of the best. The teenager has been training at the Mouratoglou Academy since 2016 working with Patrick and his team who of course coach Serena Williams, Coco Gauff and Stefanos Tsitsipas spending time with some in a pre-season training camp.
Not only has he been working with some of the best in the game but training with them two as last year at the World Tour Finals the Dane was a practice partner for many top players including: Federer, Djokovic, Tsitsipas, Monfils, Medvedev and Zverev.
I have previously written about Holger following a big year for him which you can read at the bottom of this piece but this is about his game, in particular the forehand.
I’ve been watching a bit of RUne, I saw him for Denmark in the Davis Cup lash his forehand down the court with confidence and just pure power, it was fantastic to watch! I have seen a bit of him in challenger action where he has faced difficult challenges but has still played to his strengths.
He has become an integral part of Denmark’s Davis Cup team winning four of his five singles matches in some big ties for his country who have another big one later this year against Thailand. Holger made his Davis Cup debut in 2018 at age of 14 and was the only winner for his country with a 6-2 7-6 (16-14) but Denmark fell 1-3 to Egypt and since then has won his last four.
There is a lot to like about the teenagers forehand, it reminds me slightly of Dominic Thiem now and also a few years back.
image credit – ATP
Good position on this one, nice distance from the baseline to play the shot and be effective. You can just about see Blancaneaux in the shade at the top of the picture in position to cover both shots.
Rune could relax the wrist and pull it cross court (yellow) or continue the racket rotation through with his body and pull it inside (blue) which is what he did and from this court position hitting a winner is more likely.
Holger lost this match at the end of January 1-6 2-6 to the Frenchman and part of the problem for me was the forehand.
We like to revert to our favourite shot. If I have the smallest chance to run around the forehand and hit that two-handed backhand I do even if forehand looks easier.
I wasn’t too sure about this position by Rune.
image credit – ATP
A couple of metres behind the baseline, backing up to hit that off-forehand. Generating power isn’t a problem with this shot but the further back the shorter depth. Slightly reminds me of how Dominic Thiem use to play his game. You can still play an inside out forehand here but with less pressure put through the legs and shoulders.
I would have expected more of a two-handed backhand which we saw at times in the match. It allows you to pick a spot and guide it more rather than over playing a shot from a position that just isn’t effective.
It isn’t a criticism at all just an idea, It’s something we’ve seen players adapt over the years is bringing a backhand into play more.
Hopefully it isn’t too long until we see tennis back and we can continue to see this journey unfold and onto the next chapter!
image credit – Morten Olsen/Dansk Tennis Forbund