Casper Ruud out to emulate Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud with French Open trophies
Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud with French Open trophies

Former world No 2 Casper Ruud hopes to follow in the footsteps of clay court greats Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem in winning big tournaments on other surfaces.

Ruud has won eight of his nine career titles on clay but hopes to improve on hard courts and even grass.

He nonetheless reached the US Open final in 2022 on a hard court, although his grass swing wasn’t much to write home about.

“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.”

Ruud hopes to be able to adapt his game to be successful on other surfaces like Nadal and 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.”

After his exit from the Australian Open, Ruud revealed that he has been battling a chronic abdominal strain issue.

He said: “Yeah, it’s a little tension and some slight pain in my abdominal.

“It’s something that has actually been with me for around two years, the last two years since I got a strain here two years ago in the fourth round.

“It’s still sometimes a little bit of an issue that I hope this period that I will have now in front of me of four, five weeks of not too much serving and rebuilding my body a little bit will help with the problem, because it’s not the first time that this happens.

“Just releasing it with the physios can help a little bit. It just sort of tightens up my left side from serving.

“It didn’t affect me a lot, but I felt it a little bit in the second set. In the third and fourth I was able to serve a little more freely, and feel better in the ab.

“I hope it’s nothing serious, but it does come a little bit back here and there sometimes, so I need to take care of it and hope that I can sort of get rid of it for a long time, hopefully now.”

Ruud has taken a month off from the tour after the Australian Open.

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