Casper Ruud, Rafael Nadal’s discreet rival in the Roland Garros final

Without making much noise, Casper Ruud advances steadily in the world of tennis. The first Norwegian to enter the select Top 10, the player with the most victories on clay last year, on Sunday he will play the first Roland Garros final against his idol Rafael Nadal.

"People often tell me in the supermarket that my face reminds them of having seen me somewhere.", admits Ruud, even without the status of sports star in his country like the soccer player Erling Haaland or the long-distance runner Johannes Klaebo have. A lack of popularity that more than annoys, seems to amuse this young man of 23 years.

Pioneer in his country
However, the son of Christian Ruud, who rose to No.39 in the ATP rankings, is a pioneer in Norwegian tennis. After beating Italian Lorenzo Sonego last Saturday at the end of a fierce five-set match, the young Casper became the first Norwegian to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros. In the three previous participations he had not passed the third round, the same thing that had happened to his father in 1995 and 1999.

In September, Ruud had already made history for his country’s tennis by becoming the first Norwegian player to break into the world Top 10.

An achievement that rewarded a particularly prolific 2021 season, with five tournaments, being the second tennis player with the most titles, tied with Djokovic, only behind Alexander Zverev (6).

In that season he won 57 games, 28 of them on clay, for only 5 losses, presenting the best ratio of the circuit on this surface. Some results that led him to play the Masters, where he reached the semifinals.

In 2022, despite an injury to his ankle and another to his abdomen, followed by an operation to extract his wisdom teeth, the Norwegian returned to success with titles in Buenos Aires and Geneva, a semi-final in Rome, a quarterfinal in Munich and Barcelona, ​​a first Masters 1000 final in Miami (on hard) and to round it off his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros.

Nadal, source of inspiration

A pride for the Norwegian who since childhood "I always wanted to play big tournaments" and whose childhood idol was none other than Rafael Nadal, his rival in Sunday’s final.

"I admire Rafael. He is the perfect example of how to behave on a court, he never gives up and never complains. He has been my idol all my life"he admitted this Friday after winning the Croatian Marin Cilic in the semifinals.

Read Also:  How Gautam Gambhir's mood changed! Did you really praise RCB or just mock it?

"He’s the only Big 3 player (alongside Federer and Djokovic) I’ve never played against, so I guess this is the perfect time. Playing against him in a Grand Slam final will be great. Hopefully for him too, to play against a student from his academy"he said remembering when he was forged as a tennis player five years ago in the training center that the Spaniard has in his native Mallorca.

Years before the appointment on Sunday, the young Ruud practiced tennis, but also other sports such as football, ice hockey or golf, which he continues to practice today. In fact, before his match against Cilic he could be seen warming up… with a soccer ball.

It was at the age of 12 that he decided definitively on the little yellow ball. Always with Nadal as the main source of inspiration.

Although trained by his father, this former No. 1 in the junior category trains regularly at Nadal’s academy. "Being able to hit the ball and chat with him has helped me a lot to reach the level that I am today"recognized a year ago.

Inferiority complex
He also resembles the Spaniard in his humble attitude, as he showed in the first round match, in which Jo-Wilfred Tsonga said goodbye to tennis, leaving all the post-match prominence to the French.

That gesture has led him to win the affection of the French fans, he who does not usually attract the attention of the public.

"My game is not the most spectacular, some might even say that it is boring (…) I try to be solid and do what I know how to do"admitted in 2021 a Ruud that at the beginning of his career he also had an inferiority complex for proceeding "of a small country at the tennis level".

"It was never clear to me that I could achieve great things, but at this moment I feel that I am getting closer. Winning Roland Garros would be fulfilling a child’s dream"he said this week in Paris.

His results in the last two years have made him gain confidence little by little. Nadal is warned.

Recent Articles

Related News

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here