Five Things To Know About Ruud, Who's Headed To Milan
Casper Ruud can check qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan off his 2019 goals list. The 20-year-old Norwegian is set to make his debut at the 21-and-under event, to be held 5-9 November at the Allianz Cloud. Here are five things to know about the right-hander.
1. Tennis is in the family.
Casper Ruud has been playing tennis since he was four years old, when his father, Christian, introduced him to the sport. Christian Ruud played on the ATP Tour, reaching No. 39 in the ATP Rankings, making the 1995 Bastad final and playing in the fourth round of the 1997 Australian Open. Christian also coaches and travels with Casper full-time on Tour now.
“I know that he cares about me and he wants everything in the best way for me. So, of course, he's been a really big part of my success and my team, ever since I was little,” Casper said.
2. They are Norway's first tennis family.
Christian is coaching Casper and his records are pushing his son. Christian is the most accomplished tennis player from Norway, a country known more for its winter sports, such as skiing.
Christian, for instance, is the highest-ranked Norwegian player in ATP Rankings history (since 1973). But Casper is close to catching his dad in some regards. While Casper, with a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 54, is still 15 spots away from tying his dad's mark, Casper made the Houston final in April, matching his father's title match appearance in Bastad.
“I'm from a small tennis country, and I don't have too many people to look up to in my home country, except for him. He's the only one who knows how it's been and how the life on the Tour is. I think it's been a huge advantage, even though I'm from Norway, to have my father so close to me and helping me with my tennis,” Casper said.
Watch Uncovered: Ruud Following In His Father's Footsteps
3. He has learned from his breakout run in 2017.
Casper was only 17, but at the 2017 Rio Open presented by Claro, he already seemed destined for big things. Ruud, in just his third tour-level event, sprinted to the Rio semi-finals, winning his first three ATP Tour matches at the 500-level event.
He became the youngest semi-finalist on the ATP World Tour since Borna Coric in Basel 2014 and the lowest-ranked player to make a 500-level semi-final since Alexander Zverev (No. 285) in Hamburg in 2014.
Ruud, rightfully, felt happy about his achievement. But, looking back on it, he admits to feeling a little too pleased with the one-week performance.
“I was maybe a bit too happy with playing good that week... I wasn't maybe greedy enough to go for many good weeks in a row,” Ruud said. “Of course, you can be happy and proud over some good wins, but there's always another match, and usually the day after, if you win. You always have to be ready and greedy to get that win.”
4. He faced Roger Federer in Roland Garros, and the Swiss admitted a weakness ahead of their matchup.
Ruud was playing in his first third round at a Grand Slam, and Federer, who has been on Tour since 1998, conceded a pre-match advantage to the #NextGenATP Norwegian.
“I know probably more about his dad than about him. Even though I never played him, the father,” Federer said. “I know that [Casper has] improved a lot in recent years, and I think he plays very well on the clay. Again, I haven't seen him play a whole lot. But for any 20-year-old to be on the big stage, playing a top guy, on a centre court, that's what you dream of.”
Christian Ruud ended his career at 2001 Roland Garros, the eighth Slam Federer played, and Dad had to have been proud of his son's efforts against Federer. Casper had a set point in the third set before falling 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(8).
5. He will make his Milan debut.
For two years, Ruud has been eying the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. But this year, he'll make his debut and get to play alongside the game's best 21-and-under players. “This year is kind of the first year where I felt like I've been really steady throughout many tournaments and many weeks in a row,” he said. “I'm really happy, but I'm also greedy and trying to go for more.”