Nice | Rune suffers second Hopman Cup loss

World No 6 Holger Rune suffered his second defeat at the Hopman Cup in Nice on Thursday when he fell to France’s Richard Gasquet in a tie that ultimately was decided by the mixed doubles.

I didn’t know there were going to be so many Danes... I didn’t know they were going to be so noisy! Alizé Cornet

Denmark’s Clara Tauson delivered a second win for her country, when she beat Alizé Cornet in the opening rubber, 7-6(2) 6-4, but then Rune lost to Gasquet, 6-2 6-3, and the tie went the way of Gasquet & Cornet in the mixed doubles, 6-4 6-4, placing France second in Group A behind Switzerland on Day 2.

According to EkstraBladet, Rune has been ill for 4 days in bed with a fever, which would explain his sudden loss of form, after having reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, where he lost to Carlos Alcaraz .

He has also developed pain in his wrist and his upper back, and his mother Aneke told him not to play the Hopman Cup or Umag, but the 20-year old apparently has the final say.

“He does not want to be sick,” she said.

Gasquet is a very experienced player, and his angles off both sides are still some of the cleanest, which put Rune under tremendous pressure in the first set on Thursday.

The Dane held 2 break points in the opener, but failed to convert either of them, plus there was considerable wind, which made both players struggle with their serve, but Gasquet took far better control in the rallies, resulting in the Frenchman winning rather comfortably.

In the second set, Rune did not create any chances to break despite both becoming more used to the difficult conditions and serving better, but, again, it was in the rallies where the Dane struggled to keep the ball in play.

France's Richard Gasquet & Alizé Cornet defeated Denmark's Clara Tauson & Holger Rune in the deciding mixed doubles rubber

Losing back-to-back Hopman Cup ties, Denmark were dumped out by France, but Rune, like Alcaraz, remains a star attraction.

Danish fans have flocked to the Hopman Cup, many of whom have travelled all the way from Denmark, and red and white flags were out in numbers in Nice all week.

There was overwhelming encouragement for Tauson on Day 2, the winner of the first singles match of the day over Cornet.

“I didn’t know there were going to be so many Danes,” said a surprised Cornet at the post-match press conference. “I didn’t know they were going to be so noisy!”

All dressed in red in the stands, it was the number of Danes present that impressed, more than their vocal support.

“There will be more than 1,000 Danes over the five days of competition,” said Philippe Weiss, Operational Director of the Hopman Cup. “It is by far the most present foreign population on this Hopman Cup. They are more numerous than the Spaniards, the Belgians.”

Embracing the atmosphere were two avid fans, Etan and Nohr, who travelled across from Italy from Aalborg in Denmark, just to see Rune play.

“On vacation in Genoa, we rented an Airbnb for two nights, we’re leaving tomorrow,” they said. “We really wanted to see him play, it’s the first time. We had to go to Roland-Garros but it was complicated.

“Since the retirement of Caroline Wozniacki, tennis was no longer an important subject in Denmark.”

The news of Wozniacki’s return to competition cheer them.

Now eliminated after losing to both Switzerland and France, Denmark will not feature in the Hopman Cup final on Sunday, and the expected clash between Alcaraz and Rune is no longer on the cards.

Croatia's Donna Vekic & Bora Coric pipped Belgium's David Goffin & Elise Mertens to the post in the mixed doubles on Thursday

Meanwhile, on Court 1, Croatia and Belgium were competing in Group B, which also went down to the wire in the mixed doubles on Thursday.

Elise Mertens, ranked No 30, got Belgium off the mark with a fine 6-2 6-2 win over Croatia’s Donna Vekic, the World No 22, before Bora Coric edged past David Goffin, 6-3 2-6 [10-4], to level the tie.

The mixed doubles rubber proved equally tight, with the Croatian pair of Coric & Vekic pipping Goffin & Mertens at the post, 7-6(5) 3-6 [10-6].

The win pushes Croatia to the top of Group B, with Belgium second and Spain at No 3 and yet to play.

Anticipation of seeing newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Alcaraz in action on Friday alongside Rebeka Masarova is building as Spain prepares to take on Belgium, and France meet Switzerland, the Group A leaders.

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz has arrived in Nice for the Hopman Cup and will be in action on Friday

© Valery Hache/AFP via Getty Images



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