An outstanding campaign on German soil has led Dane Holger Rune to reach his first career championship match at tour level. He will play eight-seed Botic van de Zandschulp on Sunday, aiming to lift the BMW Open trophy.
The wild card, who turned 19 last Friday, has been displaying high-quality tennis all week, taking out big names such as top seed Alexander Zverev in the second round, scoring his first top-5 career victory.
In his on-court interview, he outlined: “I didn’t expect this at all, coming into this tournament, and I just took it match by match. Obviously, I had a tough draw, playing Zverev in the second round, but I knew it was going to be tough, so I was ready from the beginning, and I’m super happy to be in the final.”
In addition, throughout the ATP 250 tournament, Rune defeated Czech Jiri Lehecka, Finn Emil Ruusuvuori in the quarterfinals - becoming the youngest Munich semifinalist since 1988, and German Otte in the last four to set up a meeting with World No. 40 Botic van de Zandschulp Sunday.
The two first-time finalists in Munich have never faced one another on tour, but on Sunday, one of them will lift the BMW Open by American Express trophy, a milestone both men are eager to achieve.
The Bavarian city has witnessed Rune, currently ranked No. 70, showcasing his best performances thus far this season, an explosive tennis display from the third youngest tournament finalist, yet to drop a set this week.
Knowing he had a real chance of advancing into the championship match, the Dane took the decision to withdraw from the Mutua Madrid Open qualifying, as he was playing the quarterfinals in Munich on Friday, and qualifications in Madrid started Saturday.
The boy who turned pro in 2018 is gathering strength and experience, step by step, towards his ultimate goal.
“It’s getting better and better, I’m improving every day, and this is what matters. In the end, I have some goals to be No. 1 in the world, and you have to start somewhere, and I’m happy to be here in Munich,” he added.
Earlier Saturday, Van de Zandschulp fought hard to defeat in-form Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 after a nearly three-hour battle.
Under pressure, the 26-year-old recovered from a set down, surviving a tiebreak in the second set to force a decider, which he won to book his ticket into the ATP 250 final.
After the match against World No. 38 Kecmanovic, he commented: “I’m pretty tired. It was a long match, tough conditions, the court was so heavy, so I’m happy I made it through.”
“It didn’t look like [I would] after the first set, so I’m really happy with the win.”
The Dutchman avenged his defeat to the 22-year-old at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells to level up their Head2Head series 1-1.
The high-level matchup was tight and required Van de Zandschulp to bring his A-game in order to prevail over the Belgrade native.
The Netherlands’ number one racquet won 59 percent of his first-serve points to Kecmanovic’s 55 percent, gaining momentum in the third set.
Across the event, he toppled American Brandon Nakashima, unseeded Egor Gerasimov, claiming a third Top 10 win by ousting World No. 7 Casper Ruud in straight sets before emerging victorious in the semifinal.
Addressing the conditions on court, the Dutch explained: “I had to adjust a little bit. It was slower than yesterday, a lot heavier than yesterday, and he did better than me in the first. Second set, I started to play better, smarter, and I’m happy I won 6-4 in the third.”
He is set to play at the Madrid Open on Monday against 16th seed Pablo Carreno Busta. The ATP clay-court tournament runs from May 1st to the 8th.