Tennis Prose



Rune Now 2-0 With Coach Becker and No Backwards Cap

By Scoop Malinowski

The union of ATP world no. 6 Holger Rune with new coach Boris Becker is one of the most intriguing combinations of tennis history.

The 20 year old from Denmark has ditched his former coaches Lars Christiansen and Patrick Mouratoglou and now joined forces with the six-time Grand Slam champion and former world no. 1 from Germany.

It’s a bold move by the ambitious Rune who once said he has aspirations to break Rafael Nadal’s Roland Garros record.

Rune doesn’t really care about limits or opinions criticizing how he states his goals and operates his career, he just wants to be the best player he can be – and obviously he believes he’s capable of gargantuan results and achievements.

Rune has every reason to believe the sky is the limit for the future of his career. He has already beaten the best players in the world and won four ATP singles titles. He has already been ranked 4 in the world.

Boris Becker knows a thing or two about being the best at a young age and not being afraid of early success. Becker, of course, won Wimbledon as a 17 year old and defended that title a year later in 1986. Becker, of course, spent years coaching and also learning from the greatest tennis champion in the history of the sport, Novak Djokovic.

To ponder how much wisdom, knowledge, experience and value Becker can transfer and teach to young Rune is a fascinating subject.

So far this new Rune/Becker combination has enjoyed a near perfect launch this week at the Basel Indoor tournament. The no. 1 seed in Basel lost the first set of his first round match but then rebounded to avenge Miomir Kecmanovic 16 75 63. The 24 year old Serbian ranked 55 had just defeated Rune at the Stockholm Open 76 62.

In the next round, Rune ran into another player who had beaten him in the previous meeting, Sebastian Baez, who upset Rune last year in Buenos Aires 76 63. Today, Rune beat Baez 76 61.

So far there is just one very clear change in Rune since he’s hired Becker and it has nothing to do with technical or tactics.

If you haven’t noticed by the Basel highlights, Rune is no longer wearing his customary backwards Nike ballcap. And you have to think it’s hardly a coincidence. It’s an order from coach Becker. My perception of the change is that the backward cap made the very young looking Rune look like a junior and it detracted from his presence as a tennis force. Now without the cap and just his hair, Rune has a different appearance and energy and you can more clearly see the ferocity and ruthlessness in his facial expressions and eyes. He’s graduated, in a sense, from childhood to adulthood overnight.

Subtle appearance changes can make a difference. Only once in tennis history has a man won a Grand Slam title wearing a backwards cap – Lleyton Hewitt at US Open 2001 (Hewitt wore a headband winning 2002 Wimbledon). Andy Roddick never won a major title wearing his visor but after his new coach Brad Gilbert told him to stop wearing the silly looking accessory (which no other top ATP player has ever worn) and switch to a ballcap, Roddick won the US Open and became world no. 1 in 2003.

But Becker surely has a lot more to offer Rune beyond appearance and image tips. And how this relationship blossoms and evolves could ultimately end up changing the balance of power in the ATP.

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