10:54 PM GMT November 16, 2019
Three years ago, a teenage Stefanos Tsitsipas served as a hitting partner for Dominic Thiem during the Nitto ATP Finals. He's since graduated to opponent as they face off on Sunday in the title match at The O2 in London.
Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune is hoping to emulate the Greek’s rapid transformation from top junior to top pro. The 16-year-old Dane, currently World No. 1 in the ITF Junior Rankings, joined Wimbledon boys’ singles champion Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan as hitting partners this week for the elite eight. Rune is hoping to not only match, but surpass Tsitsipas’ turnaround time in qualifying for the season-ending championship.
“He was a hitting partner like me. Now he’s here in the final. I hope I can be here in two years,” Rune said. “I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully get here as soon as possible.”
"A little bit more and I'll end up playing with all the players from the ATP World Tour Finals."— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 16, 2019
This was @StefTsitsipas in 2016 as a hitting partner for @ThiemDomi.
Tomorrow, the two will face off in this year's final 🤯
📸: Stefanos Tsitsipas (IG) | #NittoATPFinals pic.twitter.com/kJCv3nyxQr
Rune and Tsitsipas shared a practice court several times this week. The Dane also regularly hit with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, in addition to warming up Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev for their matches.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience for me to play with the top players. To get information from Roger, Rafa and all the top guys has been awesome.” Rune said. “It’s still amazing to be here.”
The Dane has just started to take the first steps in his fledgling pro career. Rune competed in his first professional tournament this June, winning a round at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Blois. Having already declared lofty goals that include becoming No. 1 in the ATP Rankings and winning every Grand Slam, he’s confident that hitting with the world’s best will only help him achieve his dreams.
“I’ve always believed in myself and put high goals. I always go for my goals,” Rune said. “I just keep on going, keep working hard, keep working on the right things and I’ll get there.”