First-Time Winner Spotlight: Casper Ruud
ATPTour.com caught up with the 2019 Next Gen ATP finals competitor after his victory to talk about his maiden tour-level crown, his rivalry with his father and coach, former World No. 39 Christian Ruud, and how he plans to celebrate.
What does winning your first ATP Tour title mean to you?
It’s a great feeling. I’m enjoying the moment, of course. It’s something very special when you get your first [ATP Tour] title and the biggest title of your career so far. I’m enjoying it a lot, but I also have to recharge and think forward, think of the next tournament.
I’m already playing in the next tournament again on Tuesday in Rio, so I have a big task ahead of me. But I will try as good as I can to be ready.
The Latin Swing has always been one of your strongest parts of the year. What about playing in South America suits you so well?
I think the most important [thing] is that it’s on clay. It’s a place where I enjoy coming. It was the first clay-court tournament for me this year. I want to develop my hard-court game also and I think that it’s going in the right way, but clay is the more natural surface for me.
I also enjoy the people, the crowd. They are very passionate down here about tennis and this tournament is really nice. Rio is also an amazing tournament, so there are many things to enjoy with this South American trip.
How much did having the experience of playing a final last year in Houston help you in this match?
I think it helped. Being in your first final is something very special. Last year, I lost the final in Houston against Cristian Garin and this year, I really wanted to try to get a win. It tasted really well when I won the match point and I could take my arms in the air to be a champion for the first time. It was very special.
Talk about how your move to Mallorca to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy has helped your game.
It’s a great place. I think it’s so good down there at his academy. It’s a great place if you want to be a professional tennis player. The academy has helped me so much with the coaches and everything down there, and also Rafa himself. He’s involved in my tennis and my career, so I owe them a lot of thanks and I will keep going down there for as long as I can.
You’re the first Norwegian player to win an ATP Tour title and you have a cool and funny rivalry with your father, former World No. 39 Christian Ruud. Is that over now?
I guess so. Now I’ve beaten his [FedEx ATP] Ranking and won an ATP Tour title, something he wasn’t able to do… I beat him in two different ways now, so I think now I don’t need to hear the question anymore, will I beat my father? Now I’ve done it, so I have to try to think even better and that I can reach even further.
You started the year with your first two Top 20 wins at the ATP Cup. How important was the way you played there?
It was a great start for me, beating two very good players. John Isner and Fabio Fognini are different types of players, so I think that gave me good confidence to start the year. In the Australian Open, I was a little, I’m not going to say unlucky, but it was a very close match that I lost, which is always a pity when you lose a five-setter and 7-6 in the fifth.
It’s a tough match to lose, but I still felt like I was playing well and I wanted to keep building on that for these tournaments down here. This is a great way to start the Latin Swing for me.
How will you celebrate tonight?
I don't know. Maybe I will have a Coca-Cola and a good Argentine steak.