Despite losing his first Grand Slam match on Tuesday to Novak Djokovic, Holger Rune won over the fickle New York crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium by refusing to withdraw despite suffering from excruciating cramps.
On the New York stage, Djokovic, a three-time US Open champion who is attempting to complete a rare calendar-year Grand Slam on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts, is a popular headliner.
On Tuesday, though, it was the dashing 18-year-old newcomer who was applauded for his valiant performance in a 6-1 6-7(5) 6-2 6-1 loss to the world number one.
“I’ve never felt anything like this before,” Rune added.
“Staying there was an incredible experience.
“I tried to give something to the crowd, to battle for every point, to be hyped, and so on.
“I mean, the turnout was incredible. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
The match began with a fairly bland atmosphere inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, but once the little-known Dane upset Djokovic to win the second set, the audience was chanting his name.
Rune embraced his time on the grandest platform of tennis, bringing energy and a seductive attitude to the match that captivated him to the crowd.
When Rune broke Djokovic in the second set, he turned to the fans and fist-pumped, eliciting a thunderous applause.
But it was later, as Rune staggered about the court with cramp, grinding it out to an expected loss but earning the crowd’s respect, that the loudest applause erupted.
“I never want to put an end to a contest. I’d like to finish them “Rune remarked. “I’d like to see if I can come up with a solution.
“It’s difficult to beat a player like Novak if you can’t move 100 percent of the time. You’re not sure you’ll be able to beat him even if you move 100%.
“It’s difficult if you don’t have any legs.”