Carlos Alcaraz’s 2022 season was one long run to the crown, with a US Open win making him the youngest world No. 1 in history and the sport’s greatest spectacle. But it wasn’t the 19-year-old who thrived at the Paris Masters last week. Carlitos retired from the quarter-finals with an abdominal strain, but not before he was outplayed by his opponent Holger Run, a Dane born a week before him.
Rooney, who is best known for his on-court performances for strong results, has taken a lot of heat over the past month. Nothing he has done so far suggests he can make it to the title in Paris, where he ran into the top 10 and lost to Novak Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. in Sunday’s final. When Rune picked up that Tolken-esque tree trophy, he became the second teenager in it top 10. He also bent a simple narrative. A year that widened the gap between Alcaraz and the rest of the age group will instead end with an enticing opportunity for future rivalry.
Paris was Rooney’s fourth final in four tournaments, completing a 19-2 run to close out the year. His path to the title in Paris was perhaps the most difficult in recent memory. Rooney’s first opponent is the only one not ranked in the top 10 and is still a three-time major champion. Stan Wawrinka was washed out but still dangerous and was close to any foe all week, holding three match points before Rooney won a third-set tiebreaker.
In the second and third rounds, Rooney took out top 10 players Hubert Hurkach and Andrey Rublev straight away. He faced de jure world No. 1 Alcaraz in the quarterfinals, leading the way in the first set before shockingly retiring during a tiebreak in the second set. (Alcaraz withdrew from next week’s finals, wrapping up the year.) In the semifinals, Rooney knocked off Felix Auger-Aliassimen, who was in top form on tour. A 16-match winning streak, including last week’s loss against Rune in Basel.
Only world number 1 Djokovic standing in Rooney’s way is technically ranked 8th and on a 13-match winning streak. Djokovic stormed through the first set in 36 minutes, and history spoke in his favor: he had won all 30 previous Masters finals in which he had won the first set. But Rooney, who balanced a high-risk offense and poor defense, took the second set, proving his backhand was worthy of a tiebreaker exchange with the strongest backhand in history. Rune broke the serve at the end of the third, opening the opportunity to serve for the champion. One of the rallies of the season was an unbearably tense service game that featured six break point opportunities for Djokovic, a nervy double fault on match points, two unforced errors and some perfect kills. Despite questionable shot selection from Djokovic, all credit goes to Rooney, who was visibly disturbed at home, and later said he felt “my heart was almost in my brain”.
“I’m not happy because you beat me, but on the other hand I’m happy for you because I like your character,” Djokovic said at the trophy ceremony. It is not clear that this opinion of Rune’s personality is widely shared. In a post-match handshake last week, Wawrinka offered Rooney some elder wisdom: “What I would advise you to do is stop being a baby on the court.” all right?”
It wasn’t clear what Wawrinka’s level behavior was in this particular match, but the “baby” assessment isn’t inappropriate. Casper Rudd, who won a spicy quarter-final at this year’s French Open in Rouen, started a strange Scandinavian beef. Rooney, who had been beating his mother and his team all match, came to the net and offered a dead-fish handshake while in a state of decay. Rude managed to shake his head in disgust.
Then it was Rune’s turn to argue the moral high ground. After the game, Rudd said he treated the locker room and said, “Jay!” he shouted. on his face. Rudd’s father denied the allegations; Rune’s mother did not know where his father was because his father did not know. Rud himself They declared it false. He said he hoped the lie. It will not happen again. Although his most serious misstep came in June 2021 when he yelled homophobic slurs at the semi-finals of the Biel Challenger, his yelling and screaming remained a staple of Rooney’s character. Rune won the race and was fined 1,500 euros, a quarter of his total prize money.
If there is a relative lack of excitement from the rune area, compared to Alcaraz, it may have to do with these factors and the undeniably heavy vacation brat face. There’s inevitably a pesky heel in every generation, and he could be ready to fill that void.