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Rune Calls Out Wawrinka: You Got Nothing to Say Now?

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, March 13, 2023

A focused Stan Wawrinka seized the last point.

A fierce Holger Rune fired the last word.

More: Top 10 Worst Handshakes of All Time

In a crackling showdown dripping drama, animosity and head games, the 37-year-old Wawrinka showed major appetite for the fight stopping the seventh-seeded Rune 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in a wild Indian Wells third-round upset.

The 100th-ranked Wawrinka has scored three straight wins in a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time since the 2020 Rolex Paris Masters, but the end of the match was not the end of this battle.

The 19-year-old Rune, incensed Wawrinka blasted him as "a baby" in their last clash four months ago in Paris, called the sturdy Swiss out as they met at net today. 

"You got nothing to say now? You got nothing to say now?" Rune boldly challenged the former US Open champion while looking him in the eye.

Wawrinka, who had his left hand on the teenager's shoulder as they met at net, looked surprised by the remark and replied: "What do you want me to say?"

As Wawrinka turned to shake chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani's hand, Rune broke out to pack up his Babolat bag making a quick exit.

The entire episode prompted this response from Wawrinka on Twitter.

Though these two have only met twice, their fierce feud is already bubbling with more bad blood than Cocaine Bear. 

This raw rivalry is rooted in words exchanged last November when Rune repelled three match points stunning Wawrinka 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) at the Rolex Paris Masters.

In the handshake after that match, an annoyed Wawrinka gave Rune a piece of his mind over what he perceived as bad behavior during the match.

"My advice to you is that you stop acting like a baby on court,” a bitter Wawrinka told the Danish teenager as they shook hands.

That admonishment left Holger's mom and manager, Aneke Rune, calling Wawrinka a sore loser afterward.

"It is hard to imagine that a sportsman like Stan would have said that,” she said. “Then he would come across as an uncommonly bad loser. Holger has only mentioned that he wished him well with the results of the past weeks."

Though he's one of the youngest men in the Top 100, Rune has shown substantial cojones standing up to and sometimes annoying veteran players, notably Casper Ruud in a contentious quarterfinal clash at the 2022 Roland Garros.  Ruud and Rune took their war of words into the locker room in Paris with neither man reportedly backing down.

In today's rematch with Wawrinka, Rune again showed he's not afraid to play mind games and try to control the pace of play.

On one occasion, Rune turned his back to the Swiss when he was set to serve. Rune took a medical time-out for treatment of an apparent shoulder injury.

Through all the chaos both men kept fighting between the lines as the drama escalated. Rune saved a match point when Wawrinka served for the fourth round at 6-2, 5-3, 40-30. Then the Dane made another great escape fighting  back from love-4 down in the second set tiebreaker to force a final set. Rune was both waving his arms to exhort fans and wearing a wide smile.

While the teenager's passion got under Wawrinka's skin in Paris, the former French Open champion dug in with determination to finish the job today.

Wawrinka broke for 6-5. Serving for the fourth round again, Wawrinka closed at love and will face either 11th-seeded Jannik Sinner or Adrian Mannarino in the fourth round. 

We don't need ring announcer Michael Buffer bellowing "Let's Get Ready to Rumble!" to bump up the buzz next time Wawrinka and Rune get together.

Though next time they square off, the chair umpire may want to be on court for the post-match handshake. 

Photo credit: Tennis TV