Novak Djokovic is through to the second round of the U.S. Open but not without hitting a speed bump named Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, who is now known to the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd as “Roooooooone.”
New York tennis fans love an underdog, and they got a scrappy one in Rune, an 18-year-old Danish qualifier ranked 145th in the world who gave the No. 1 player in the world a bit of a tussle Tuesday night on the biggest stage in tennis before Djokovic prevailed, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-1.
In the second set tiebreaker, when Rune ran out to a 4-0 lead, “Roooones” rained down on the court, enough that the chair umpire stopped the service clock several times during Rune’s serve because he was flummoxed by the response.
Rune pulled out the tiebreak and got a standing ovation, but he started cramping in the third set and despite taking some medication given to him by a physio and massages on both legs, Rune’s legs gave out. He finished the match rather than retire, and Djokovic seemed to give him the sixth game of the final set before serving out the match.
“It’s never nice to finish a match the way we did,” said Djokovic, who had practiced with Rune in Monte Carlo earlier in the year. “Holger is a great guy, one of the up-and-coming stars. He deserves a big round of applause.”
Opelka comes up big in opener
Reilly Opelka, who won the first of his two titles in the New York Open at Nassau Coliseum in 2019, probably isn’t a contender at the U.S. Open, but he’s working on it.
He’s got a ways to go to get to the height of his game, and when you are 6-11 that’s a substantial climb. He won his opener against Soonwoo Kwon on Tuesday, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4.
Opelka blasted 33 aces with a 70% first-serve percentage.
“I thought it was a typical, routine kind of serving performance for me, and I definitely made him feel really uncomfortable,” Opelka said
Another promising American, Sebastian Korda, retired with a stomach issue in the second set of his match against Nikoloz Basilashvili. Virtually unknown Maxime Cressy, a Californian born in France, came back from two sets down and scored a major upset, defeating No. 9 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7). Mackenzie McDonald knocked out No. 27 seed David Goffin 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.