Casper Ruud forehand US Open

Casper Ruud using ‘idol’ Rafael Nadal as motivation for world number one charge

Becoming world number one like his rival Rafael Nadal has always been the ‘ultimate goal’ of Casper Ruud, according to his father.

Christian Ruud was a good ATP performer himself, reaching number 39 in the world during his career. He has already been eclipsed by his son, though, and Casper will go all the way to the top should he win the US Open final against Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday.

That brings pressure in itself, but Christian says they will try to use it as motivation rather than expectation

“We are just trying to take one match at a time,” Christian Ruud said. “It’s still far away, I think.

“But of course it’s nice that it’s possible, and Casper has a little bit of motivation, because even when he was small, his ultimate goal was to be number one in the world. Yeah, the chances are still there, so we are happy about that and we just have to play one match at a time.”

Casper Ruud has been one of the most improved players on the ATP Tour in recent months.

He was once seen as a clay specialist, but the Norwegian has proven he has a big all-round game in hardcourts this season, and his father is keen to point to the influence of his idol Rafael Nadal in that transformation.

“He was already starting to look at Rafa [Nadal] and that was his idol, so he really was into the tennis world and he wanted to be on that centre court one day,” Christian Ruud said.

“We knew he had the level to play with the top guys and also beat the Top 10 players. That was the big goal this year, to at least reach some Grand Slam quarterfinals.

“It was a disappointment in Australia when he was injured two days before the start of the tournament. Of course, he came in French Open with some nerves because he really wanted to do well there and had a difficult opponent in the first round.

“Then the goal was achieved a little bit, and then this US Open, he plays maybe with little bit calmer shoulders because he already had one good Grand Slam result. In a way, he got that breakthrough in the Grand Slams, and hopefully, we can continue. He’s fit, he’s doing well, so he suits playing five-set matches.”

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.