For #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune, his exceptional fourth-round victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday at Roland Garros lasted 13 years.
While his victory over the world No. 4 was due to hard striking and impressive agility, the wheels of Rune’s recent success were launched in 2009 at a club in Denmark. As her older sister went to court, five-year-old Rune watched alongside her mother, Aneke Rune, and quickly became fascinated with the sport.
“All the other little siblings would be like, ‘Can we go home soon? ‘” Aneke told ATPTour.com last year. “I could give Alma my full attention and when a game was over he would pick up his chair and move it around to find another game to watch.
“He was hooked before he started. He wanted to start, but he wasn’t allowed until he was six years old. So when he started, he was very motivated.
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After patiently waiting, Rune was finally allowed to play. For the Dane, his passion for observation quickly turned into competition. His current coach, Lars Christensen, spoke to ATPTour.com last year and recalled his earlier memories of Rune.
“He was totally dedicated to tennis. In the beginning, he also played a little soccer and he did all kinds of hobbies. But very [quickly], he just wanted to be a tennis player,” Christensen said. “One week he was Rafa with the headband and all the gear. He wanted to be like Rafa. The next week he would be Federer and he would be totally dedicated to it. He really loved playing tennis.
For Rune, the opportunity to face Spaniard Rafael Nadal will present itself this week if the two can reach the final at Roland Garros. If you were to ask Rune about the 13 Roland Garros titles Nadal won in his career, you can expect the Dane to give you a detailed answer.
The 19-year-old, who is currently No. 28 on the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, eats, drinks and sleeps tennis according to his mother. While Rune briefly started skateboarding as a kid, the Dane has always been invested in following the Tour.
“He can spend hours. It’s not just a movie for him. It’s footwork, he can tell you the backhand all the way [Stan] Wawrinka struck in that game that year. You can ask him anything and he can answer, he’s so into the details,” Aneke said.
His passion for tennis shows in his desire to attend events growing up. Last November, Rune made his debut at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. However, it wasn’t his first visit to Milan, with Rune as a fan in 2017.
“I’ve watched it [the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals] when I was very young with my mother. She bought tickets for Christmas, an early Christmas present in 2017,” Rune told ATPTour.com last November. “I went to Milan to watch the first edition when Hyeon Chung won and [Andrey] Rublev played and [Daniil] Medvedev.
On Wednesday, the children will be in the stands of Court Philippe Chatrier to see Rune play against Casper Ruud. The talented teenager – who has improved his mentality over the years according to his coach – is is the first Dane of the Open era to qualify for the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam.
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Photo credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Earlier this season, the Dane made waves on the ATP Tour. He picked up his first Top 10 win over Alexander Zverev in Munich, before securing his first ATP Tour title later that week in Germany. By reaching the last eight on his Paris debut, the 19-year-old made his biggest hit yet.
Ruud will take a 3-0 lead in the ATP Head2Head series in his match with Rune, but no matter what, the Dane will leave Paris with his head held high.
For the 19-year-old, it’s just one more step on the way to his ultimate goal.
“My ultimate goal is to be No. 1 in the world. I won’t hide it, cause it is and always has been [my goal]said Rune after his win over Tsitsipas. “I know the road is long. There was an even longer road, but now I’m getting closer and closer. I believe in myself and I am also capable of beating these kind of players, not only once but also in a Grand Slam where we all know that they want to give their best.
If Rune can keep climbing the Pepperstone ATP rankings, he could reward himself with a ‘cheat meal’ to celebrate his efforts and for the 19-year-old his food choice would be simple.
“I would probably have a pizza or a burger as a main, then probably chocolate mousse,” Rune recently told ATPTour.com. “It’s very good in France.”