Casper Ruud’s determination to never stop improving has helped him become the most successful male player in the history of Norwegian tennis.
Yet despite winning nine ATP Tour titles, reaching two Grand Slam finals and climbing as high as No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the 23-year-old remains one of the most grounded personalities in the game.
As Netflix’s new documentary series Break Point takes a behind-the-scenes look at Ruud’s 2022 season, ATPTour.com lays out five things to know about the ice-cool Norwegian.
1) Like Father, Like Son
Both Ruud and his father Christian Ruud are considered trailblazers for Norwegian tennis. The former World No. 39 Christian was the highest-ranked Norwegian in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history until Casper stormed past that benchmark in 2020. Casper has gone on to reach a career-high ranking of No. 2 and in 2022 reached the final at both Roland Garros and the US Open. He happily attributes some of that success to Christian, who is his long-time coach.
“We looked at some [other coaches], but I said that, ‘I’m more comfortable with you being around’,” Casper told ATPTour.com last year. “I know that a coach will do so much for you and be very helpful, but when it's the father as well, you feel like you are taken extra care of, because a father will care maybe those extra percentages because he's your family.”
2) He Is A Golf Fanatic
It wasn’t just tennis that Ruud took to at an early age. The Norwegian is also a lifelong golf lover and tries to sneak in a round whenever his busy schedule on Tour allows. The 23-year-old even has a separate Instagram account (@casper_golfer) dedicated to his passion for the sport.
“I love the way that golf is so challenging, but it’s also possible for normal people to earn a good score,” wrote Ruud on ATPTour.com in 2020. “Anyone can make a birdie if they are a bit lucky and, in those moments, it feels so easy to play golf. At other times, it feels so hard. The highs and lows of the sport are extreme, even more than tennis, and the details are so small.”
3.) Shania Twain Is Impressed
Having witnessed Ruud’s title win in Gstaad in 2021, country music legend Shania Twain returned to Switzerland last year to support the Norwegian in his bid for a second consecutive title in the beautiful Alpine town. Once again, she enjoyed watching Ruud power his way to victory, later tweeting in support of her friend. “Spent my Sunday watching Casper Ruud win his second Swiss Open Gstaad,” Twain wrote. “Congratulations my friend, what a result!”
Ruud, who first met the Canadian singer through mutual friends during his 2021 run, was thankful for Twain’s backing. “I really appreciated that she came back this year and supported me in the final,” he said after his 2022 victory. “It was nice to see her again.”
4) He Has Trained At The Academy Of His Childhood Idol, ATP Tour Legend Rafael Nadal
Ruud has often spoken about how he grew up idolising Rafael Nadal, and since September 2018 the Norwegian has had the chance to train frequently with the Spanish legend, at times making the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca his home base.
“I always felt like I’ve played with good intensity in my game, and I need it to play well, but I’ve gotten that extra 10 or 20 per cent from being there,” Ruud, who was outside the Top 100 when he made the move to Spain, told ATPTour.com prior to the 2020 season. “That’s the small margin that can change whether you’re No. 10 [in the ATP Rankings] or No. 60… When I practise with Rafa, he gets to push me around and I’m usually exhausted after a couple of hours. They’re tough sessions, but they’re great.”
5) He Is One Of A Number Of Norwegians Making Their Mark On The World Stage.
Ruud is part of a wave of young Norwegians that have taken the sporting world by storm in recent years. Manchester City football star Erling Haaland, Top 10-ranked golfer Viktor Hovland and champion Olympic runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen also hail from a northern European nation usually more associated with success in winter sports. With a population of just five million, how does Ruud explain the sudden emergence of so many superstars?
“I guess we are young, hungry to do well, just focused on our sports,” Ruud said last year when asked about his, Haaland and Ingebrigtsen’s success. “It's not something you can plan. It just happens. It's coincidental sometimes.
“Maybe it's the salmon we eat or the fresh water. I don't know what's going on… We hope we can keep it going, that more people can know about Norway as a country and also athletes from Norway that can do well in bigger sports.”