Rookie 19-year-old star at the French Open, not named Carlos Alcaraz

Paris – With all due respect and attention to Carlos Alcaraz, the favorite to win the 2022 French Open, is another announced 19-year-old young man in singles, a boy from Denmark named Holger Rooney.

The similarity mostly ends here for two players who could end up as rivals over the next decade, which is about how long they have been rivals. However, for the time being, and possibly for a few more days, they are inhabiting separate worlds.

“It’s a lot of fun to see these players play in junior tournaments for years,” Rooney said in an interview on Thursday after winning for the second time in a row, he missed out for the first time in the third round of the Grand Slam tournament. Time.

Alcaraz, the Spaniard who is number 6, absorbed much of his oxygen during the days he was playing, despite sharing the scene with some pretty good players, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Alcaraz’s five-set comeback from Wednesday’s match against Albert Ramos Vinolas was the tournament match so far.

Runa, who is in the 40th place, swam under the radar. He has not left the team yet.

Alcaraz plays in big stadiums and is the main theme of the dressing room.

“Famous Carlos Alcaraz”, – this is how the Russian Danil Medvedev, the champion of the 2021 US Open, who is in the second place, described him with a smile.

Rooney has so far played on Court 12 in Roland Garros’s low-rent area, where the backcourt is so tight that while chasing Beckhand on Thursday, he protects the clay from the rain and strongly twists his ankle. He only missed three games before winning. For a second he thought it was too bad. He limped down on a chair and received medical attention, then returned and closed out Swiss Henry Laaksonen, 6-2,6-3, 6-3.

Alcaras has dark hair and dark eyes, and over the past year has shown a pattern of his appearance and his calmly confident but humble demeanor after the Big Three: Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer. His coach and model for everything he does is the soft-spoken former world number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero. Alcaraz’s father called his son the main work horse, even when he was a little boy.

Runa, a Scandinavian dirty blonde, plays with a backward baseball cap. His coach, the lesser-known Lars Christensen, started training him when Rooney was 6 years old, after he appeared at a local Danish club run by Christensen.

It works, but it was not always smooth.

“I was lazy as a child. “I mean 12 or 13,” he said Thursday after leaving the doubles tournament to defend his ankle.

Alcaraz hits the ball so hard that even the best players in the world say he can adapt to his pace. It does not lack touch, but in its essence relies on the brand supplied with testosterone in the game.

Runa plays a style full of sophistication. He moves on the pitch and never expends more energy than he needs to.

He and Alcaraz started playing in the Under-12 Championships each year. In his opinion, they have played 10 times. He is convinced that Alcaras has an advantage, 6-4 years. Alcaraz defeated him in a series of sets in November at the Next Gen ATP final in Italy.

They both had some sort of party at the U.S. Open last year. Alcaraz, then known mainly to tennis fans, in the third round in a five-set epic angered third-seeded Stefano Tsitsikas.

Rune finished with Djokovic in the first round.

“My goal is not just to play here. My goal is to win this tournament,” Rooney said before the game.

“I was a little inexperienced,” he said Thursday. “I did not know what it took to play in five sets, maybe in every match.”

He still lacks self-esteem. “I believe in my game,” he said, though now a dose of realism has been added. “I believe I can defeat someone, but I also believe I can defeat someone.”

Quite rightly so, but it should also be noted that over the years all the tennis experts – Patrick McEnroe, Brad Gilbert and others – have been quite confident that the days of discussing teen candidates at major tournaments are over. They said the game has become very physical. It was a men’s domain.

Alkarazi refuted this view, winning major tournaments near Miami and defeating Nadal, Djokovic and Olympic gold medalist Alexander Zverev on the road to Madrid this spring.

Runa may not be far away. The youth champion of the French Open in 2019, he won his first ATP Tour title in Munich earlier this month, knocking down Zverev on the way.

He won the BMW for his hard work, but there is one problem that reminds him of his youth: he has not yet passed his driving test.

“I did not have time,” he said. “When we have some time, we are definitely going to get a driver’s license and drive.”

Alcaras received the license in February.

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