World No.4 Holger Rune has crashed out of the US Open in a shock first round defeat after being embroiled in a "disrespectful" furore with tournament organisers. The Dane became the biggest casualty in the men's draw on the opening day of the grand slam after going down to 63rd ranked Spaniard, Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Rune hit out at organisers before his shock first round exit after being shunted to one of the outside courts at Flushing Meadows, despite being one of the highest ranked men's players. Asked on Danish TV about his court allocation before the match, Rune agreed with an assessment that it was “disrespectful" from tournament organisers and claimed that two ATP schedulers “always give me the worst courts.”
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The 20-year-old also tweeted a map of Flushing Meadows that showed a location of the outside court he was playing on, in a not so subtle swipe at officials before his match. Rune was clearly miffed at being shunted away on one of Flushing Meadows' tiny outside courts and sarcastically wrote "in case you can find Court 5, this is where I play my first match Monday".
— Holger Rune (@holgerrune2003) August 26, 2023
The court is crammed in between the Arthur Ashe and Grandstand Stadiums, with pathways on either side where spectators can wander past. Rune's cheeky tweet backfired as hundreds swarmed around the court to see the 20-year-old slip to a shock first round defeat.
To rub salt in the wounds, Rune even complained to the umpire about one noisy fan before eventually going down in four sets. Rune claimed he had “no problem” with Court 5 itself but was miffed by the perceived lack of respect for his ranking.
Holger Rune unhappy with outside court allocation
“As [better] as you get in the rankings, the more benefits you should get with playing in better conditions,” he said. “I think that’s a normal way, and.... it’s how they do with all the players. But they didn’t do it with me here.
“That’s obviously disappointing, but [I’m] not going to blame the court on the loss.” He said he was "totally fine" with the reality that favouritism is given to American players in terms of featuring on the main courts at the US Open and insisted his swipe about the court was meant to be a bit of a joke.
Holger Rune was asked about his tweet regarding playing on Court 5:
“I just did it kind of for fun. Of course I was a bit unhappy when I saw the schedule. But I saw the schedule Friday so I had time to recover from it. It’s not like I can’t play tennis if I don’t play on Center… pic.twitter.com/Qc8uhKLUAi
Holger Rune was asked if he sought an explanation for why he was put on Court 5:
“Of course I tried to get an explanation. They said what we all know, that they put Americans on the big court. Which is totally fine. I’m used to playing in France where they do that. So I respect… pic.twitter.com/cTzsy2s935
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) August 28, 2023
Dominic Thiem joins Aussies in second round
In other men's first round action, Dominic Thiem picked up his first win at Flushing Meadows since he won the title in 2020. The former World No.3 - who is working his way back up the rankings after a long spell out injured - beat 25th seed Alexander Bublik 6-3 6-2 6-4 for his first win at a grand slam in more than two years.
Australia's Rinky Hijikata vindicated his wildcard entry with a 7-5 5-7 6-3 7-5 victory over Russian Pavel Kotov in a sapping contest stretching a minute shy of four hours. The hard-earned victory was the 22-year-old's first at a grand slam outside of Australia.
In women's action on day one, Greek eighth seed Maria Sakkari suffered a shock exit after losing 6-4 6-4 to Spanish world No. 71 Rebeka Masarova. Daria Saville flew the flag proudly for Australia with a solid first round win, while compatriots Kim Birrell and wildcard Storm Hunter bowed out.
Saville set up a mouthwatering second round showdown with World No.1 Iga Swiatek after thrashing American teenager Clervie Ngounoue 6-0 6-2 in little more than an hour. Swiatek was equally as ruthless as she romped to a 6-0 6-1 win over Rebecca Peterson to get her title defence off to the perfect start.
Birrell, a qualifying lucky loser, battled hard in a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) loss to 2021 Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady, while Hunter succumbed 6-4 6-0 to Czech 10th seed Karolina Muchova, the 2023 French Open runner-up.
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