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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, August 28, 2023

NEW YORK—Map quest couldn’t help Holger Rune navigate the US Open first round.

Relegated to Court No. 5, the fourth-seeded Rune was squeezed out of his US Open opener.

Sakkari: I'm Suffering on Court

Spaniard Robert Carballes Baena exploited 43 unforced errors from the disorientated Dane upsetting Rune 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours, 42 minutes. Carballes Baena will face Aslan Karatsev in round two.

World No. 4 Rune, who defeated Carballes Baena en route to the Wimbledon quarterfinals last month, was bothered by a lower-back issue and sore knee and was seemingly annoyed by being assigned to the smaller Court No. 5.

“I mean, it's no problem with the court. I just didn't expect to play on that court,” Rune told the media afterward. “I feel like it's normal. I mean, as best as you get in the ranking, it's more, you know, how you say, benefits you should get with playing in better conditions. So I think that's a normal way and it's also how ATP, like, it's how they do with all the players.

“But they didn't do it with me here. That's obviously disappointing, but not going to blame the court on the loss. He played very, very solid. Credit to him.”

The 20-year-old Rune struggled to generate free points on serve: he served two aces against four double faults and faced 14 break points. The loss concludes a futile North American summer hard-court season for Rune, who has gone 0-3 since his run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals losing to Marcos Giron in Toronto and retiring from his Cincinnati opener after losing the opening set to Mackenzie McDonald.

Over the weekend, Rune took a jab at the US Open bouncing him to the outer court posting a map of the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in a sarcastic social media commentary on his obscure court placement.

“US Open site map. In case you can find court 5, this is where I play my first match Monday,” Rune posted.

Afterward, the Paris Masters champion said he was bothered by a left knee injury. Rune also said he questioned tournament officials on his court assignment and was told Americans receive preference for stadium courts.

“Of course I tried to get an explanation, and, I mean, obviously they said what we all know, that they, you know, put the Americans on the big court, which is totally fine,” Rune said. “I mean, I'm used to play a lot in France where they do that. So I respect that 100%.

“That's not only the case here, that it's only Americans playing on the big courts. That card didn't really work. Then you try to ask more questions and they don't answer you. It's a little bit tough.”

Displacement was disappointing for Rune, who contested quarterfinals in three of his last six Grand Slam appearances, but now finds himself one and done in New York.

“I mean, obviously we are all disappointed in the team, I think it's normal,” Rune said. “It's the last Grand Slam of the year. I played some of my worst tennis. It's disappointing.”

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis