Casper Ruud was one of the biggest success stories of 2022. Reaching the finals of the French Open, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals against Rafa Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic allowed the Norwegian to climb to his highest career ranking at No. 2. The 24-year-old player’s ambition brings him to the Mutua Madrid Open intent on raising the bar even further.
“I feel good. Madrid is a nice big capital city in Europe. This is my favourite time of the year, closer to home and when I can play on clay. I love to be in Spain. It’s a great country to play tennis in. The fans are incredible and it’s a very fun couple of weeks that we have ahead of us coming up at Roland Garros”, admitted Ruud.
The third seed in the ATP draw comes to the Caja Mágica with the 2021 semi-final here fresh in his mind. The Scandinavian said he feels “good in the different conditions with altitude, the ball travels a bit faster and flies more. You have to be more careful and control it with more top spin”.
Despite the fact that this year he claimed his tenth title in Estoril, the Oslo native is critical of his own results in 2023 (11-8). “I’m talking all the time with my team about how I feel on court, what I felt didn’t go so well. I’m playing a little bit too defensive and sometimes I’m playing too short. So I think the players I play step in and play aggressive against me, and then lately I think I have been hoping too much for mistakes from the opponent, rather than trying to be aggressive myself. That’s something I need to change and I have to stay in the rallies more and not let my opponents attack me as much. That is the goal I think over the coming weeks”.
Ruud points out that his results on clay last year were “pretty similar to now”, noting that, having bowed out of his MMOPEN opener, things “started to turn around in Rome, reaching the semis there. I won the Geneva title and then played the final in Paris”. The current ATP No.4 also underscores the importance of confidence in tennis. “I think that confidence comes when you win in a streak, then things can change quickly and more wins can come”.
Under the watchful eye of his father, ex-tennis player Christian Ruud, and Pedro Clar, a Rafa Nadal Academy coach, Ruud believes he lost matches in 2023 where he felt he “was a little bit closer to winning than maybe it seems, because on tour many of matches are decided by four, five or six points that can change it completely and now it’s my job to try to find the way to win them”. One of the keys for the Top 5 player is to “step up a little bit and keep my eye on my opponents, try drop shots to be more unpredictable”.