#NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune has risen up the ATP Rankings at a rapid pace in the past year, climbing from outside the Top 400 to a current career-high, No. 86.

One of the key factors behind the 18-year-old’s success is the strict diet he undertakes to maximize performance on court.

ATPTour.com spoke to Rune to learn about how he approaches his diet during training and tournament weeks, what his favorite ‘cheat’ foods are and more.

Let’s say you have to cook tonight, whether for yourself or for friends. What would you cook and why?
If I had to play tennis the next day, I would probably cook some pasta and chicken with some good sauce. That is usually what I eat before matches or spaghetti bolognese to get the carbs and the protein at the same time. Definitely tomato sauce!

Talking about cooking, how much fun is it to try to improve it? How would you rate your skills?
I can make my breakfast. I make toast but I don’t cook much pasta. I probably could, but I have never learned how to do it.

Although you’re a professional athlete, there can be times you let go a little bit diet-wise. What do you feel about those moments and what’s your go-to cheat meal?
I would probably have either pizza or a burger as my main course and then probably a chocolate mousse. That is very good in France.

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How different is your diet during a tournament compared to a week off? Do you allow yourself something sweet even during a tournament?
I try to keep it almost the same during a practice week and a match week because I need the same energy no matter what I do. If it is practice I still need to eat well and have to put myself in a situation where I can put in 100 per cent. It is the same with matches, you want to be the best prepared as possible and eating is an important factor there, so I try to eat as good as possible.

What is your advice for juniors coming up or even fans as far as how you maintain a strict diet and how to overcome urges?

It is extremely difficult because if you have an addiction for sugar or pancakes or whatever, it is difficult. You can feel it on the court when you eat well you perform better on the court. You feel lighter and stronger at the same time, so even though you want to have all the food, which I am still struggling with, it is important to eat the right things.

Even if dinner doesn’t seem as nice, eat the right thing and listen to your coaches and parents.

How regimented is your nutritional routine on a match day? How set in stone is it and if it is, can you describe that routine?
I like sushi. It is usually chicken, pasta and rice. Spaghetti bolognese is probably my favorite thing to eat before a match and they have that everywhere in Italy. One time in Italy I ate it every day for lunch and dinner, that is how much I liked it. That is also why I love playing in Italy. I also like meat with tuna to start off with.

What is something people might be surprised to hear you enjoy?
I like pasta with tuna and tomatoes. I don’t know if it is a normal dish, but I really like it.

What is the best meal from your culture / country?
We have traditional dishes but want I eat is not normally traditional Danish food. Homemade meat with rice!

Is there something you don’t like seeing on the plate and if so, why?
It is truffles. [I don’t like] the smell and every time I go into the restaurant if I can smell it, I am like ‘No’. It is pretty fancy but I don’t like it.

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