Roger Federer's ex-coach breaks silence on shock split with Holger Rune


Roger Federer's ex-coach breaks silence on shock split with Holger Rune
© Getty Images Sport - Kelly Defina

Severin Luthi suggests it was better to split now with Holger Rune than in a half year when it was pretty clear that the timing of their partnership "was not right."

In December, it was announced that Luthi - who previously coached Roger Federer between 2007 and 2022 - agreed to start working with Rune. Before hiring Luthi, 20-year-old Rune also confirmed Boris Becker would return to his coaching staff for 2024. With two superstar coaches in his corner, Rune felt he had the right pieces around him to attack a Grand Slam title and the world No. 1 ranking in 2024. 

In his first tournament of the year, Rune made a promising start, making the Brisbane International final before losing to Grigor Dimitrov. After a strong lead-up to the Australian Open, Rune was hoping to make a really deep Australian Open run but then got hit by a very cold shower after shockingly losing to Arthur Cazaux in the first round at Melbourne Park. 

After a disappointing Australian Open run, Rune announced he and coach Luthi were going their separate ways. Now, Luthi - who enjoyed massive success with Federer - issued a statement on the split.

“If you notice this (that the timing was not right), then I say: we would rather separate now than in six months. [The collaboration was] anything but a quick fix,” Luthi told Blick. 

“I think about things like this carefully, maybe sometimes too carefully. I’m glad I was able to have this experience – it was my first job after Roger Federer’s retirement. That will help me personally.”

Severin Luthi and Holger Rune
Severin Luthi and Holger Rune© Getty Images Sport - Kelly Defina

Rune's team on the split with coach Luthi

This week, world No. 7 Rune returned to action at an ATP 250 event in Montpellier. Before his first match since the Australian Open, Rune's mother and manager Aneke announced that coach Luthi was no longer with the team. Instead, Rune will continue with Becker and former Danish tennis player Kenneth Carlsen. 

“I just want to inform you that from now on Holger will only have Boris and Kenneth in his coaching staff,” Aneke Rune said in a written statement to Ekstra Bladet.

“Don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but the timing with Severin was clearly not right. It would be too few weeks for Severin to be able to cover for the continuity that Holger needs.”

When Rune hired Becker in October, he was in the midst of a pretty rough stretch and had just one win since Wimbledon. However, all of that changed after Rune started working with Becker as the former six-time Grand Slam champion quickly found a way to fix the Dane's issues and that resulted in the 20-year-old making the Basel semifinal and Paris Masters quarterfinal, respectively. 

“With the constellation Boris and Kenneth, Holger gets the flow he wants for his development and stability,” Aneke Rune stated.

“Boris and Kenneth have been in contact since pre-season, when Kenneth was already considered for the coaching team. And from now on, the majority of all the big tournaments will be with both coaches, it goes on.

“For Holger, it is absolutely right to expand the planned collaboration with Kenneth, with whom he also trained for several periods during his junior years.”

Boris Becker and Holger Rune
Boris Becker and Holger Rune© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Rune won his first match since splitting with coach Luthi

Rune, the top-seeded player in Montpellier, had a first-round bye at the tournament before kicking off his campaign on Thursday. In his Montpellier opener, Rune saw off qualifier Pablo Llamas Ruiz 7-5 6-2 to progress into the Montpellier quarterfinal.

The first break points of the match were seen in the second game already, when Rune missed out on a break point chance. After saving an early break point, world No. 156 Llamas Ruiz had his first break point chance in the fifth game - but didn't convert it.

In the sixth game, Rune earned his second break point and this time realized it to go 4-2 up. However, Llamas Ruiz was able to instantly respond, breaking back Rune in the seventh game. 

After trading breaks in the sixth and seventh games, Rune and Llamas Ruiz went without any break point chances in the next four games. Then in the 12th game - a marathon game in which Llamas Ruiz was serving to stay in the first set - Rune missed out on seven set points before converting his eighth set point to clinch the opener.

Holger Rune
Holger Rune© Getty Images Sport - Morgan Hancock

Up by a set, Rune also made a strong start to the second set, earning an early break for a 3-0 lead. In the eighth game - the game in which Llamas Ruiz was serving to stay in the match - Rune broke the Spanish qualifier to seal a straight-set win. 

Although it wasn't the most convincing win for Rune, it was still a positive start for the Dane. It remains to be seen if Rune can make it all the way in Montpellier this week and bounce back in style from his Australian Open disappointment.

Roger Federer Holger Rune Severin Luthi