Casper Ruud - Indian Wells 2023

Casper Ruud concedes Rafael Nadal exhibition tour ‘didn’t work’

Casper Ruud has confessed that his South American exhibition tour with Rafael Nadal may have contributed towards his poor start to 2023.

Ruud had his best ever season last year, rising to No.2 in the rankings after reaching the finals of the Miami Open, Roland Garros, the US Open and the ATP Finals.

The Norwegian finished his season by playing an exhibition tour across five South American cities with his ‘idol’ Nadal.

The 24-year-old has struggled so far this season, with a win-loss record of 5-6, but says he is ‘feeling better’ going into his preferred clay court season.

“I decided to keep going in the end of 2022, play those exhos [exhibitions] with Rafa in South America and then have a pre-season in February. Things didn’t work but I’m feeling better,” said Ruud.

Ruud added, “I don’t think I’ll do what I did in 2022 again in 2023 but it hasn’t been easy to manage my schedule because I’ve been playing the ATP Finals and then the United Cup, it starts too soon for me. It’s less than a month [between those events] and I can’t miss that competition [United Cup]. My other teammates depend on me and if I don’t go, they can’t play.”

This admission is a change in tune for Ruud, after previously dismissing these claims following his second round Australian Open defeat to Jenson Brooksby.

“It’s very easy to sit here now and say that was bad for maybe both Rafa and I due to the fact that we lost early here,” said Ruud.

He continued: “[The preparation] was maybe not enough to be able to perform well here this year. So it will be considered by me and my team what we will do in December this year, and if this was the right way to prepare for the Australian Open or not.”

Ruud, who has won eight out of his nine career titles on the ‘dirt’, begins his clay court season this week at the Estoril Open in Portugal.

The No.5 is the top seed and will play either Giulio Zeppieri or Joao Sousa in the second round, after receiving a bye.

Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.