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Underarm Serve Backfires On Davidovich Fokina As Rune Prevails In Five-Set Epic

  • 3 min read

Denmark’s Holger Rune overcame Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 7-6(10-8) in a gripping battle on Saturday to advance to the Wimbledon fourth round after the Spaniard gift-wrapped match point with an underarm serve.

With absolutely nothing to separate the pair after nearly four hours out on a packed Court Three, the match came down to a final-set tiebreak in which the more experienced Davidovich Fokina cracked under pressure.

With the tiebreak level at 8-8, Davidovich Fokina attempted an audacious underarm serve to try to catch sixth seed Rune off guard but the 20-year-old’s eyes lit up and he smashed a vicious winner past the Spaniard to set up match point.

Rune celebrated and Davidovich Fokina gestured towards his box. Rune, who saved two match points in the final set, won the next point when his opponent found the net on match point. The exhausted, but ecstatic Dane lay flat on his back on the grass, soaking up the applause.

“I was not expecting for sure that was going to come. Actually it was nice, because he was serving unbelievable,” sixth seed Rune said of the underarm serve.

“But again, I was not expecting it, so I had to be fast with my feet. But wow, what a match! It was unbelievable. It’s one of the most fun matches I’ve ever played.”

Davidovich Fokina had looked solid on serve throughout so his decision was all the more baffling.

“I cannot explain what is going through my mind there in that moment because a lot of things are going through your mind, everybody is shouting and you are nervous,” Davidovich Fokina told reporters.

“I cannot explain to you what is happening in my head.”

It was the second successive year the Spaniard had exited in slightly bizarre fashion, having incurred a penalty point last year for whacking away a ball in frustration on match point down against Jiri Vesely.

Rune plays with a youthful exuberance and has many tools in his locker and his shot-making was too good for Davidovich Fokina in the opening set.

But Davidovich Fokina, no stranger to grass having won the junior title, re-grouped to give Rune a proper workout by sending him to all corners of the court as he took the next two.

Both players revelled in the atmosphere with Davidovich Fokina joining the fans in a Mexican wave from his seat when rain briefly stopped play.

His hustle and athleticism on court had him on course for victory as he chased down balls which Rune thought were winners.

But Rune consolidated an early break in the fourth and soon got the crowd rooting for him, levelling the match at two sets apiece to force a decider.

A heated argument with the umpire over a line call threatened to derail Davidovich Fokina’s focus while Rune’s serve came to his rescue when he saved two match points to level it at 5-5 before forcing a decider with his 19th ace.

Rune was 8-5 down in the tiebreak but his tenacity shone through to win five points in a row to advance to the fourth round for the first time.