Sporting Life: As polite seeds fall at the Australian Open, a passionate Dane survives

Holger Rune of Denmark after winning his Australian Open third-round match against Ugo Humbert of France on Saturday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
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MELBOURNE – When we surf the past of a sport we are naturally drawn to the heft of heroes. Like Bjorn Borg in tennis, or Muhammad Ali in boxing. But beyond this victorious elite lies a cast of supporting characters, often from smaller nations, who help stitch together an eccentric and colourful history for a game.

Denmark, which can barely muster six million people, is the home of Hamlet (a character from pre-tennis times) but also the remarkable Torben Ulrich. The mellow Dane, who is 94, wrote jazz reviews, played the clarinet, made films, co-edited a literary magazine, is a part-time philosopher and also got to the fourth round of three of the Grand Slams in the 1950s.

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