The 2022 season for Carlos Alcaraz was a long culmination, It culminated in winning the US Open Which made him the youngest player in the world to be ranked number one in history and the best spectator in the sport. But it wasn’t the 19-year-old who blossomed last week on the Paris Masters programme. Carlitos actually retired from his quarter-final match due to abdominal strain, but not before he was overtaken by his opponent Holger Ron, a Dane born just a week before him.
Ron, who has been almost as infamous in the rings on the court as in the strong results, has been hotter over the past month. Nothing he did so far indicated he was able to claim his title in Paris, which went through a top-10 pile and ended in a cold-blooded 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 defeat to Novak Djokovic. In the final on Sunday. When Ron held the Tolkein-esque Tree Cup, he became the second teenager in Top of page 10. He also folded a simple narrative. The year that widened the gap between Alcaraz and the rest of his age group is instead capping off with the tempting possibility of future competitions.
Paris was Rhone’s fourth final in four tournaments, at the end of a lightning 19-2 match to wrap up the year. His path to the title in Paris was perhaps the most difficult in recent memory. Ron’s first opponent was the only one not ranked in the top ten – and he was still a three-time main champ. Dusted but still dangerous, Stan Wawrinka became the closest of any opponent all week, taking three points before Ron won the third set tiebreak.
In the second and third rounds, Ron was knocked out of the top 10 by Hubert Hurkacz and Andrey Rublev, both in straight sets. In the quarter-finals he faced the de jure world number 1 Alcaraz, who failed in the first set before suddenly retiring during the second set tiebreak. (Alcaraz has since also pulled out of the year-end finals next week, turning his year around.) In the semi-finals, Ron defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime, who at the time was in better shape than any player on the tour, and is holding 16 games in a row, including a win over Ron last week in Basel.
Only de facto world number 1 Djokovic, technically ranked No. 8 and on a 13-game winning streak, stood in Ron’s way. Djokovic blasted in the first set in 36 minutes, and history spoke in his favour: He’s won all 30 of the previous Masters finals he’s won in the first set. But Ron, balancing his high-risk attack with his troubling defense, took the second set, proving his backhand was worth the most powerful backhand in history. Ron broke serve late in the third game, creating an opportunity to serve in the tournament. It has been Unbearably tense service game, which includes six point break opportunities for Djokovic, one of the rallies of the season, a nervous double-fault on match points, two fouls, and some perfect execution. Although there was a tinge of Djokovic’s questionable shot selection, the credit goes to Ron, who was visibly terrified at the home stretch and later said he felt “my heart was almost on my mind”.
“I’m not happy that you beat me, but on the other hand I’m happy for you because I like your character,” Djokovic said at the cup ceremony. It is not clear that this opinion about the character of Ron is widespread. During last week’s post-match handshake, Wawrinka showed Ron some older adult wisdom: “My advice to you is to stop acting like a baby on the field. Yes?”
It was not clear what behavior in this particular match infuriated Wawrinka, but the assessment of the “baby” is not without justification. It will be signed by Casper Rudd, who beat Ron in a scorching quarter-final at this year’s French Open, which released strange Scandinavian meat. Ron, who had been scolding his mother and team throughout the match, came to the net and offered to shake hands with a dead fish in the advanced stages of decomposition. Rod couldn’t help but shake his head in disgust:
Then it was Ron’s turn to argue about the moral high ground. He claimed after the match that Rudd walked him into the locker room, shouting “Ja!” in his face. Rudd’s father denied the charge. Ron’s mother said the father didn’t know because the father wasn’t where this happened. Rod himself Tell it a lie He hopes to lie It will not happen again. Anger and screaming remain a staple of Ron’s behaviour, although his most serious mistake was in June 2021, when They screamed strangely, During the semi-final match in the Biella Challenger. Ron won the championship and was fined 1,500 euros, almost a quarter of his total prize money.
If there is a relative lack of excitement about Rune, compared to Alcaraz, it may have something to do with these factors, and an undeniably severe case of Resting Brat Face. There is bound to be an annoying heel in every generation, and they may be ready to fill that vacancy.