02/16/2020 - 19:46
He was born in Norway 21 years ago in a family that is synonymous with tennis in his country. He grew up admiring and trying to imitate Rafael Nadal's game. And for two seasons, he trains with the support of Uncle Toni in the academy that the former number one has in Mallorca.
Thus, Casper Ruud developed a game that is more similar to that of the Spaniards who are formed in brick dust than that of the Nordics who usually play in hard courts under roof.
That was evidenced in the 20th edition of the Argentine ATP, in which the Norwegian raised his first professional title by winning 6-1 and 6-4 in the final against the Portuguese Pedro Sousa, a "lucky loser" who transformed into the revelation of the tournament and that had reached the decisive stage for the withdrawal of Diego Schwartzman.
In a suffocating afternoon, Ruud dominated without major problems a diminished rival, who dragged a nuisance in the left twin from his quarterfinal duel, and celebrated a title that will remain in history. Because thanks to his consecration, the eighth pre- classified tournament will climb from 45 ° to 34 ° step of the world ladder and reach its best location.
Casper Ruud celebrates his title Photo: Sergio Llamera / ATP of Argentina
And he will also become the Norwegian player with the best ranking in history , surpassing the 39th place that his father Christian had arrived, idol of his country's tennis, in 1995.
"This is a great achievement for me. Since I started playing tennis, we always joked with my dad that one day he was going to improve his ranking. He feels really good and now I can finally be the boss in the house," he said. Laughing Ruud about the good relationship he has with who today is also his coach.
Representative of a country with a lot of tradition in winter sports, Ruud chose his own path. Actually, he chose to follow his father's and devote himself to tennis. But his early years in the cold Oslo were not easy.
"In Norway the six months of summer are played in brick dust and the six months of winter in indoor concrete courts. But it depends on each player. I always preferred the first ones. In summer I was always running around the club trying to take advantage of the maximum those months, but even today it is not easy to find a club that has good courts, good gym, good restaurant ... Good facilities in general, "said the new champion of the Buenos Aires ATP.
He added: "It's also not easy to find sparring to prepare on clay courts. Luckily, when no one is available, I can practice with my dad, who still hits the ball pretty well ."
That reality forced him to look for new directions when he realized that tennis was much more than a hobby. At age 15 he began working with the Spanish coach Pedro Rico, who was his coach until 2018 and was the one who approached him for the first time to the Nadal Academy, where he found his second home. He has been based there for two seasons.
Casper Ruud beat the Portuguese Pedro Sousa in the final of the ATP 250 in Buenos Aires. Photo: EFE
In Mallorca, his tennis took a leap in quality and since then he did not stop growing. In 2019 he reached the semifinals in San Pablo and Kitzbühel and also played his first final in Houston. And he ended the year playing the NextGen Masters in Milan.
"Training me at the Nadal Academy helped me a lot. Since I started working there I improved a lot. I work very hard every day and Toni is constantly accompanying me, criticizing me in a good way and helping me in what I can. Today I am better physically, more strong and my tennis evolved a lot, in all aspects, "said the Norwegian.
And he added: "I also learned a lot there. I had the opportunity to train with Nadal several times in the academy and just by seeing him work on a daily basis you learn a lot. The intensity that he puts on each of his practices is impressive and that makes me it helped to understand how important it is to work hard. "
This 2020 he started with a lazy step through the ocean tour of hard courts, but he arrived in Buenos Aires and shone. "I am happy to have won the title. Hopefully this is the first of many. I hope to build a successful and long career, " he said.
Friendly and polite, the Norwegian won this week to the Argentine public. When on Saturday, during his semifinal with Juan Ignacio Londero, two people decompensated on the stands, he ran to get them water bottles. And now he promised to return.
"It was a pleasure to play in Buenos Aires. I really enjoyed the Argentine public. They supported me as long as I had to play with Londero, they were very respectful and celebrated when I won a good point. I am sure I will return. Hopefully the next one. year, "said Ruud, the Norwegian admirer of Nadal who won his first title in Argentina and made history for his country.