© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune defeats Juan Manuel Cerundolo on Wednesday in Milan.

Rune Keeps SF Hopes Alive

Dane is now 1-1 in Group A

Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune kept his semi-final hopes alive Wednesday at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, moving past Juan Manuel Cerundolo 4-1, 4-2, 1-4, 4-1 to record his first win in Group A.

The Dane lost to Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in his opening round-robin match in Milan, but bounced back against the Argentine as he imposed his aggressive baseline game on Cerundolo in their first ATP Head2Head meeting to secure victory after 78 minutes.

“I am very pleased,” Rune said in his on-court interview. “Yesterday was not easy because Carlos [Alcaraz] played very well and it was a high level. It is never easy when you play well and lose the first two sets. I learned a lot and took all the good things and experience into the match today. I played aggressively and came into the net, so I was really pleased.”

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The World No. 109 used the energy from the vocal crowd that were inside the Allianz Cloud to play with great intensity from the start as he marched 3-0 ahead in the first set. And from there, Rune never looked back, thumping forehands and crushing backhands as he continued to successfully adjust to the first-to-4, best-of-5 set format.

“In the third set I lost focus totally on my service games," Rune said. "I was close to breaking him at 1-1 and I played to passive, and after that I struggled mentally. Then I tried to regroup as fast as possible and tried to play similar to the first two sets. I found a way and it is good to have a victory before tomorrow.”

Rune, who is making his debut at the 21-and-under event, now holds a 1-1 record in Group A and will play American Brandon Nakshima in his final round-robin match.

The 18-year-old has risen from No. 474 in the FedEx ATP Rankings at the start the year to a current career-high No. 109, after he captured his fourth ATP Challenger Tour title in Bergamo last week. Rune also took a set off World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the US Open and reached quarter-finals in Santiago and Metz.

Cerundolo, who clinched his maiden tour-level trophy on home soil in Cordoba in February, is now 0-2 in Group A action. The World No. 91 will face top-seeded Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in his final match. Alcaraz will secure his semi-final spot if he defeats Nakashima later on Wednesday.

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