Who Is Casper Ruud?

Ruud

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

Casper Ruud’s name is one tennis fans have warmly welcomed this past week after the Norwegian’s run to the ATP 500 Rio semi final. The Tennis Review gives you the lowdown on the latest of the #NextGen to hit the tennis headlines and looks at why the NextGenner is generating so much excitement.

Background:

Ruud was born December 22nd 1998 in Snarøya, Norway, and lives in Alicante, Spain.

Ruud has tennis in his blood, his father  Christian Ruud reaching an ATP world ranking of 39 in late 1995.

Junior days:

Ruud was the No.1 junior on January 4th 2016 and has been to the 3rd round of the Roland Garros and US Open juniors (2015).

Professional career so far:

Ruud won his first Futures event in Paguera, Spain, in February 2016,  on his 14th appearance in a Futures draw.

Ruud won his first ever Challenger, in Seville, in early September 2016, beating Taro Daniel in the final.

Watch highlights of Ruud’s Seville win in the video below.

Ruud is currently ranked (2.25.2017)  208 and has been as high as 201 (02.13.2017).  The 18 year old has climbed 938 ranking spots from 1146 in just over a year.

ATP career:

So far, short but sweet.

Ruud has played in just three ATP main draws so far- two 250 events, Chengdu ’16, Chennai ’17, and one 500, Rio ’17. He has also played in two qualifying draws, Miami ’16 (lost in the first round to Tatsuma Ito) and the Australian Open ’17 (lost in the final round in straight sets to Reilly Opelka).

In Rio, Ruud won his first ever main draw ATP match. Playing as a wildcard, Ruud beat 88th ranked Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 6-4, going on to defeat 132nd ranked Roberto Carballes Baena 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, and 85th ranked Thiago Monteiro 6-2. 7-6 before losing to fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta in three sets in the semis after holding a match point in the second set.

Ruud

Photo courtesy of www.vg.no

Signature shot:

You need a weapon to set yourself apart from the competition in men’s tennis and Ruud has a real match winning shot in his forehand. The Norwegian has great range on that side enabling him to open up the court and pull his opponents out wide, and hit explosive winners.

Ruud also has a fine weapon in his serve- the youngster has an ATP career 69% first serve average and wins 70% of those points. He also has a 55% second serve success rate and in 20 service games, he has won 16 of them. Early days for Ruud they may be, but those stats suggest Ruud is a player who may have the weapon needed to stand up to what is now tennis’ biggest shot- the return of serve.

Ruud is not as impressive when it comes to the return of serve, winning just 5% of his return games, but expect, with a forehand and work ethic like Ruud has, that aspect of his game to improve soon.

Mental Toughness:

The Norwegian has said he enjoys the underdog role- he was the youngest player in the Rio Open draw- so it will be interesting to see how he performs when he is the favorite to win a match and climbs higher and higher up the rankings.

Ruud’s early success suggests he has the most vital quality to succeed in men’s tennis- self-belief- and another important one- a down-to-earth nature. Despite his recent success, Ruud says he has his feet on the ground, and is working hard, a great attitude which will make the difference in turning his talent and potential into top ten and Grand Slam fortune.

That strong work ethic will come in handy after the 18 year old’s loss in the Rio Open semis, one which showed his fans he has plenty of work to do – Ruud lost his SF after holding a match point. The NextGenner looked tired as experienced and in-form Pablo Carreno Busta saved match point, took the match into a decider, and won the final set 6-0.

Letting leads slip and learning from those experiences is all part of tennis, however, and Ruud and his coach Pedro Rico have a crucial lesson they can use in that defeat to develop Ruud’s fitness and match-play.

Early impressions:

Alongside fellow #NextGenners Alexander Zverev and Borna Coric, Ruud is one player we will be keeping an eye on. Few players make the successful leap from juniors to the professional circuit, but Ruud has the firepower behind him, and his run to his first ATP 500 semi-final in only his third main draw ATP event suggests we will be seeing a few more bullets shot in the near future.

Follow Casper Ruud on twitter here 

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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