Friday, March 1, 2024

Novak Djokovic gives younger generation a ‘helpful’ taste of ‘real world’, says Holger Rune – Eurosport

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Holger Rune believes it is “very helpful” for the younger generation of tennis players to have Novak Djokovic around as it gives them a taste of the “real world”.

Djokovic was the dominant force on the ATP Tour in 2023, winning three out of the four Grand Slams and finishing as year-end No. 1.

He suffered just seven defeats over the court of the season, one of which was against Rune, 20, in Rome.

For the likes of Rune, Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, Djokovic’s continued excellence means winning the biggest titles remains a difficult challenge.

However, Rune thinks it is a challenge that has some benefits.

“I actually like that Novak is still here because you know for us young players to really see what the real world is in a way, what the real deal is, you know,” Rune told the Advantage Connors podcast.

“If you never experience Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal] or Novak, I think we would miss something and I think Novak is like extremely high standard and I think for us so close to see that is very helpful.”

Rune has been tipped as one of the leaders of the next generation along with Alcaraz and Sinner.

Asked if it is time for the younger players to take over from the ‘Big Three’ of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Rune said: “Yeah, I totally agree. I have to agree and I do agree.

Carlos Alcaraz & Holger Rune

Image credit: Getty Images

“But the fact is, Novak is still winning three out of four Grand Slams this year. So we cannot say that he is gone because we need to beat him like not just one time but like every time.

“I will try to beat him every time because if he keeps winning these big tournaments, why would he stop? I mean he is not going to stop until we beat him so the sooner we can get the level raised, the sooner we will take over.”

Even at the age of 36 Djokovic has shown no signs of slowing down.

He is currently level with Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles and will have his sights set on more success next season, starting with the Australian Open, which begins on January 14, live on Eurosport and discovery+.

Rune is hopeful that he could be a part of the next dominant group on tour along with Alcaraz and Sinner, but recognises the first task for the trio is to beat Djokovic at the biggest events.

“For the sport, it is really cool, really great to have this rivalry between the three of us,” he said.

“We had the generation of Roger, Rafa, Novak, [Andy] Murray [but] I think for the sport to grow I think it is really amazing to have this group of guys that can dominate the tour.

“Not that we are doing it now, we need to do more. I am not saying we are dominating the tour already as Novak is still there. We need to try to get him out of there.”

Rune also says he does not get any extra motivation from seeing his rivals win.

“All of us have been doing very, very well. Sinner had a phenomenal season, Alcaraz also with the Wimbledon title,” he said.

“To be honest, I have so much motivation inside of me so I don’t need other players to really motivate me or keep my hunger. When I am winning, I am more hungry you know, and when I am losing I get motivation to go back to work.

“It doesn’t matter if Sinner is winning a tournament or losing in first round, I mean, I wish him the best but it does not affect my motivation and will to win, and again for the sport, it’s really cool.”

Stream top tennis action, including the 2024 Australian Open, live on discovery+, the Eurosport app and at eurosport.com

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