In their first meeting at tour level, Holger Rune overpowered sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut at the Swiss Indoors Basel Open to reach the championship match at an ATP 500 event for the first time in his career.
The 19-year-old battled to topple the Spaniard 7-6(1), 7-6(8), having nearly past the two-hour mark.
In his on-court interview, the Danish player outlined: “It was brutal. It was a very tough match and really long rallies.”
“He played some very solid tennis, very aggressive with his forehand. I just tried to play as aggressive as I could, take every chance I got to follow [my shots] forward to the net, and focus on my serve.”
Adding: “I think I managed the nerves well, especially the second set was super tough. I thought we were going to three sets, but I’m happy I managed to stay focused.”
A highly competitive duel of generations saw both players delivering clinical performances behind their serve.
Moreover, a clean ball striking left no room for breakpoints, with the first set unfolding into a tiebreak after 48 minutes of play.
Despite hitting a double fault early in the tiebreaker, Rune took the initiative to find great consistency in his tennis display to ultimately take the win behind a mini-break, nailing a 7-6(1) win after 56 minutes.
The World No. 25 demonstrated a precise serving, winning 80 percent of his first-serve points to his adversary’s 70 percent.
In addition, he fired 24 winners, committing 11 unforced errors.
After fighting off two breakpoints in the third game of the second set, Rune stepped up at 2-1, earning an early lead.
The Dane came back from 0-40 in the fifth game, saving three breakpoints to hold his serve and stay ahead 3-2. Once and again, his serve proved the difference at a crucial moment.
Bautista Agut continued to apply pressure over his opponent, albeit he let slip two breakpoints opportunities at 4-3 against the man who is yet to get broken this week.
Maintaining his form, Patrick Mouratoglou’s pupil was also effective when serving and volleying, a strategy that paid dividends throughout the match.
For his part, the 34-year-old stayed cool under pressure, holding to even the score 6-6, sending the second set into a tiebreak.
Playing well while forcing Rune to make mistakes, the Spaniard made a fast start, opening a 3-0 advantage.
However, the Sofia Open runner-up survived the long rallies with consistency and resilience, mastering his strategy.
The young start came back from 2-6 down, saving four set points to seal the encounter 7-6(8), keeping his quest for his third title of the season alive, his first at the ATP 500 level.
He finished with 46 winners (11) aces to 16 unforced errors, winning 81 percent of the first serve points.
Earlier this season, he captured his maiden ATP title in Munich, and last week he lifted his second trophy in Stockholm, continuing an impressive campaign to wrap up the season on a high.
En route to the final, he moved past seventh seed Alex de Minaur, Frenchmen Ugo Humbert and Arthur Rinderknech, and Bautista Agut to set up a meeting with Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in Sunday’s championship match.
Auger-Aliassime toppled world number one, Carlos Alcaraz, in straight sets earlier on Saturday, earning his 12th consecutive triumph to book his ticket to his third final in a row.
The 22-year-old, currently on a twelve-match winning streak, spoke after his win over Alcaraz, commenting: “I’ve been serving amazing, not getting broken once yet.
“There’s still one match to go, but it’s been a fantastic week, [I have] played some great tennis, and again today against the best player in the world. It’s an amazing win, so I’m really happy with my level, and hopefully, I can go all the way.”
Auger-Aliassime and Rune will face one another for the first time at tour-level on Sunday.