Novak Djokovic fires warning to Holger Rune ahead of Paris final after…

Novak Djokovic fired a warning to Holger Rune ahead of their Paris Masters final on Sunday as he said he was ready to do battle with the 19-year-old despite facing a “challenge” in his semi-final as he avoided defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas. The world No 7 is the defending champion in Paris-Bercy while Rune will be playing in the biggest final of his career, and Djokovic said he “loved” watching the rising star.

Djokovic narrowly avoided defeat to Tsitsipas on Saturday as he found himself in a third set after cruising through the opener to win it 6-2. The Serb went an early mini-break down in the final set tiebreak before reeling off four straight points to get through 6-2 3-6 7-6(4) in more than two hours.

After the match, the 35-year-old was relieved to get through as he evaluated the “challenge” Tsitsipas posed before turning his attention to his next match against Rune. “It’s very sweet obviously when you win matches like this against one of the best players in the world,” he said after coming off court.

“I thought I started the match very, very well. Again, great hitting like yesterday in the quarters. Had chances early on in the second, I didn’t break his serve, the momentum shifted, the crowd got into it you know, and I think he elevated his level of tennis. And deservedly so, both of us went into an even battle all the way until the last point, the last shot. Some incredible points at the end, I’m just really glad to overcome this challenge.”

The defending champion in Paris-Bercy will now face a first-time Masters finalist in Holger Rune as he bids to retain his title. While the Dane is still a new figure on the tour, he knows Djokovic well after serving as a practice partner for the Serb in the past.

The 35-year-old had nothing but kind words to say about the world No 18 but warned Rune that he would face a battle if he wanted to win his first Masters title and make his top 10 debut. “He’s a great guy, I love him,” Djokovic gushed, speaking about the two-time title winner.

“I think he’s really good for tennis, he tries his best, he’s a fantastic fighter, competitor. We get along very well, we trained a lot in Monaco and I know his family, really nice family, and he deserves all his success.”

As much as Djokovic “loved” Rune, he wasn’t going to give away a Masters title as he said he was prepared for another battle after his two-hour-and-18-minute clash with Tsitsipas. The Serb added: “Tomorrow he’s gonna have a tough battle if he wants to win. We are obviously good friends off the court but on the court we are professionals, we want to win, so I’m sure he’s going to be very excited to play in his first finals.”

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