Holger Rune admits it is good that the rising stars of tennis are getting a taste of the “real world” from Novak Djokovic, adding that the tennis great’s “extremely high standard” will help young players to raise their game.
There had been talk earlier in the year that the next generation of stars, including Rune, Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, are ready to take over from the Big Three of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
With Federer retiring last year and Nadal missing the bulk of this season due to injury, only Djokovic stood in the way of glory.
Yet the 36-year-old ended up dominating the season as he won the Australian Open, Roland Garros, US Open and ATP Finals while he also finished as the year-end No 1 for a record-extending eighth time.
In an interview on the Advantage Connors podcast featuring the great Jimmy Connors, Rune admitted that Djokovic is still the man to beat, but he is happy to be learning from the Serbian.
When asked if it is time for the young generation to take over from the Big Three, the Dane replied: “Yeah, I totally agree. I have to agree and I do agree. But the fact is, Novak is still winning three out of four Grand Slams this year.
“So we cannot say that he is gone because we need to beat him like not just one time but like every time. I will try to beat him every time because if he keeps winning these big tournaments, why would he stop?”
He added: “I mean he is not going to stop until we beat him so the sooner we can get the level raised, the sooner we will take over. I actually like that Novak is still here because you know for us young players to really see what the real world is in a way, what the real deal is, you know.
“If you never experience Roger, Rafa or Novak, I think we would miss something and I think Novak is like extremely high standard and I think for us so close to see that is very helpful.”
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The 20-year-old, though, does feel the rivalry between himself, Alcaraz and Sinner will be good for men’s tennis, but they will need to “get rid” of Djokovic first.
“For the sport, it is really cool, really great to have this rivalry between the three of us. We had the generation of Roger, Rafa, Novak, Murray [but] I think for the sport to grow I think it is really amazing to have this group of guys that can dominate the tour,” he said.
“Not that we are doing it now, we need to do more. I am not saying we are dominating the tour already as Novak is still there. We need to try to get him out of there.”