How Ruud Followed In The Footsteps Of Nadal, Thiem
Netflix's Break Point chronicled the clay-court exploits of Casper Ruud during the 2022 season, culminating in his meeting with Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros final. Court Philippe Chatrier was a fitting venue for the Norwegian's first major final, played on a surface on which he has won eight of his nine ATP Tour titles.
Ruud claimed his first tour-level trophy in Buenos Aires in 2020, then broke into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings behind five 2021 titles, including four on clay. In 2022, he rose to a career high of World No. 2 with a big helping of hard-court success. While he won three more titles on the dirt last season, Ruud also reached marquee finals at Miami, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals to flash his hard-court credentials at the highest level.
Speaking with the ATP Tour in late 2021 — a year in which he won three straight clay titles in July — Ruud discussed his confidence level on clay and hard courts.
"I don't have a lot of doubts in my hard-court skills, but definitely it's not as good as maybe my clay-court game," he said. "But it's something I'm working on of course."
Fortunately for the Norwegian, he had two elite examples of players who were able to translate early clay success to other surfaces: Nadal and Dominic Thiem.
"Nadal is the perfect example and I think also Thiem a little bit," he said. "I think the general media has considered both Nadal and Thiem big-time clay-court specialists, and Nadal has won even two times in Wimbledon. It just goes to show that it's possible for the heavy topspin players to play well on the surface.
"[Nadal] is a type of player that I looked up to for many years and that I will try to learn from when it comes to this transition from clay court to hard court."
Ruud studied well and emulated the success of both Nadal and Thiem with his 2022 campaign. The next step for the Norwegian is to match the pair by becoming a champion at the ATP Masters 1000 and Grand Slam level.