Djokovic hails Danish teenager Rune as 'future of tennis' before Paris final showdown

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Novak Djokovic lavished Holger Rune with the highest praise before their showdown in the Paris Masters final, declaring: "He kind of reminds me of myself."

Serbian superstar Djokovic scraped past Stefanos Tsitsipas in their semi-final on Saturday, snatching a 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-4) victory.

Now 19-year-old Danish player Rune awaits the 21-time grand slam winner in Sunday's title match, a clash of generations that is full of promise.

It will be a record 56th Masters 1000 final for Djokovic, and a first for Rune, who will climb to 10th in the world should he win.

Rune is already assured of at least 12th position on the ATP list, a career-high, after knocking out four top-10 players this week: Hubert Hurkacz, Andrey Rublev, Carlos Alcaraz – who retired when trailing in their quarter-final – and Felix Auger-Aliassime, who he beat 6-4 6-2 on Saturday.

In his entire young career before this week, Rune had only beaten four players from the top 10, so this week marks a significant step, no matter how the final goes.

"No doubt that he's the future of the sport, along with Alcaraz and some other guys," Djokovic said. "Hopefully I can suspend his first title Masters 1000 event. We get along really well, good friends off the court.

"Of course on the court, we're competitors. I played him only once, at the last US Open, a good battle, four sets. He has improved a lot, no doubt. He physically is a very fit guy. He's young, so not much to lose. Just swinging through the ball.

"He kind of reminds me of myself, solid backhand and very good defence and just competitive, every point leaving his heart and his legs out there on the court. It's nice to see that. I think he's very good for our sport in general."

Djokovic said it was reassuring to fend off Tsitsipas, who had led by a break in the deciding tie-break.

"It means a lot mentally, emotionally for me, more than anything," said Djokovic. "I need to also make a statement that I'm still there with the young guys, that I'm able to compete with them and win such tight matches."

Six-time champion Djokovic has now reached an eighth final at this tournament, getting to the title match three times more than anyone else, with Boris Becker next on the list with five appearances.