Nadal French Open 2021

‘Rafael Nadal is the perfect example’ – Casper Ruud on how the Spaniard motivates him


Both Casper Ruud and Rafael Nadal are most prolific on clay, and the Norwegian looks to the legend on how to constantly elevate his game.

The 22-year-old is having by far his strongest season to-date in 2021, entering this week’s San Diego Open with 43 tour wins, 20 more than his previous best year of 2019.

In July, Ruud won three events in as many weeks (all on clay). He is the first ATP player to achieve such a feat since Andy Murray did so in 2011.

“I think winning those three tournament back-to-back was something special and something that raises your confidence and belief in yourself, definitely,” Ruud told the ATP Tour.

“I don’t mind being a clay court player. [Rafael] Nadal is the perfect example.”

Like Nadal, Ruud’s strongest surface is clay. The Norwegian has five ATP titles to his name, all on clay, with two more ATP finals also on clay, with none on any other surface.

When Nadal started out on the ATP tour, he won nine clay titles before doing so on another surface, winning the 2005 Canadian Masters on hard courts.

Ruud has even had the privilege to train with Nadal on multiple occasions at the Spaniard’s Mallorca academy.

“It’s possible for heavy topspin players to play well on [all] the surfaces and [Nadal] is the type of player that I looked up to for many years and will try to learn from when it comes to this transition from clay court to hard court,” Ruud explained.”

In fact, Casper Ruud’s best Slam result came at the 2021 Australian Open, reaching the fourth round before losing to Andrey Rublev.

Next up in San Diego, the world number 10 plays Italian world number 23 Lorenzo Sonego.

Nadal French Open 2021
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