Rune saves two match points before stunning Wimbledon victory

Holger Rune, the sixth seed, produced a staggeringly impressive performance, saving two match points and dragging himself back from a seemingly hopeless final set tie break position to defeat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the No31 seed, and reach the Wimbledon fourth round for the first time 6-3,4-6,3-6,6-4,7-6 (10/8) in 3hrs 59mins

Rune faced an underarm serve from Fokina at 8-8 in the tie break, an option the Dane said he would have never taken and revealed how he guessed Fokina was going to try something different.

He said: “The underarm was very unexpected for sure and in a way it was nice because he was serving really well during the match. But also, you know, it’s pressure, because imagine I missed that one. That would feel awful.
“I wouldn’t have done it. I thought that I would trust my serve and go big, also like I did in the match points, the match point I saved. I think it’s different from person to person. it was obviously surprising, but I don’t think he even bounced the ball, so I was aware that something was different. Then when I saw it, I just ran for it and tried to hit it where he wasn’t there. I mean, I choose to go cross. That was the right way. Yeah, I was maybe a little bit lucky, but I’m happy to be through.
“It was a crazy match and it weas tough to be two sets down but I told myself that Wimbledon isn’t every week and to push until the end. “

The contest captivated the Court Three crowd who were engrossed in arguably the match of the tournament which made the decision by Fokina to ignore his strong serve and deliver one underarm so baffling.

Rune,20, is the highest ranked player in Danish tennis history and this win firmly establishes him as a real threat in only his second Wimbledon and he will continue to urge himself to “be brave” – an attitude he credited for allowing him to fight back and claim the win.

Fokina, who has Russian and Swedish heritage giving him a similar appearance to his Danish opponent, found himself under pressure after giving up the opening set 6-3 his charismatic opponent. However, he rallied to so effectively that the match was turned on its head and suddenly it was Rune who was making the errors as Fokina rattled off two impressive sets of tennis to grab the momentum.

Rune, who reached the Queen’s semi-finals, has quicky become a fan favourite with his surname turned into a long chant and two quarter-final appearances at Roland Garros in the last two years has helped focus attention on his prodigious talent and fiery personality. He will have another high profile match in the fourth round against either 10th seed Frances Tiafoe or Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, the 21st seed.

The Dane knows how to work the crowd, particularly one that is on his side and repeated shakes of the racket and fist pumps towards his box added to the theatre as he mounted a fourth set revival after losing the previous two sets. Both players were able to serve at more than 130mph but Rune started to make crucial errors, twice double faulting in the eighth game and still kept hammering his second serves at 113mph with this self belief paying off as he held for a 5-3 lead.

To the chants of “Come on Holger” the sixth seed served for the set only to go 15-40 down and punched the air in relief after a Fokina passing shot just failed to get over the tape. A 124mph ace out wide got him back to deuce and a set point was created when he won a volleying duel at the net and a failed return from Fokina tied the match at two sets all after 2hrs 46 mins of absorbing tennis that included Rune winning 12 of his 14 net approaches in the match.

In the tenth game Rune was 15-40 down and facing defeat but he raced to the net to volley away Fokina’s first match point and an ace got rid of another then an error from the Spaniard got it back to deuce and loud cheers celebrated a 5-5 match score.

Fokina took a 4-1 lead in the final set tie breaker and a series of Rune errors left the Dane trailing 2-6 before he fought back to 5-6 only for the Spaniard to pull of a spectacular lob winner for 8-5 but it wasn’t enough to deny Rune.

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