Casper Ruud: A humble champion
Twelve months ago, exciting Norwegian talent Casper Ruud stepped out to play the opening match of Laver Cup Boston eager to impress his teammates and win points for Team Europe.
One man in particular had arrived to support the blue team, Ruud’s childhood hero Roger Federer, who was recovering from knee surgery and unable to compete in the event he created.
“I was playing the first match of the whole Laver Cup against Opelka,” recalls Ruud. “It was the first time they showed Roger on the big screen in TD Garden in Boston, and the whole crowd erupted like I never heard before, so I can only imagine what it will be like when he’s on the team and when he will enter the court.”
This year, and with so much confidence gained from reaching two Grand Slam Finals Ruud still has performance nerves when he imagines playing in front of his illustrious teammates.
“It’s going to be so special this year, having the biggest four tennis players in my childhood,” he says.
“It’s going to be an honor. Probably going to be a bit nervous when I’m out there playing in front of them, but I’ll do my best and I’m very happy to be able to represent Europe for this year’s Laver Cup in front of a crowd full of cheerful fans, and a European bench of legends.”
How it’s going
A leading Next Generation player and former world No.1 junior, Ruud arrives in London ranked No.2 on the ATP Tour in singles, admired for his great sportsmanship and humility, and having put Norwegian tennis center stage at just 23 years of age.
He is the highest ranked Norwegian tennis player in history and the first to win nine ATP Tour singles titles, taking out three of those in 2022: at Buenos Aires in February, defeating Team World opponent Diego Schwartzman, at Geneva in May beating Joao Sousa, and Gstaad in July where he triumphed over Matteo Berrettini.
He was also the first Norwegian to advance to the final at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows, honing his ferocious forehand on the hard courts at Montreal and earlier in the year at Miami, where he was beaten in the final by his US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz.
On playing Laver Cup
Coached by his father Christian, a highly respected former pro, Casper Ruud is a student of the game and says he grew up watching the ATP Finals in London at The O2 for 12 years. “It’s an arena full of unbelievable memories,” says Ruud.
“People from all over the world will come to London and watch this year’s Laver Cup and local London fans will also come. I was in The O2 myself when I was around 10 years old and watched the ATP Finals. I’m excited to come back and be a part of the team and a player who’s going to play out there.”
Ruud says Team World is dangerous and will be seeking revenge on previous losses. “The first year was close, it came down to the last match. Last year we were a bit too strong, but it was very close, six matches went to a Laver Breaker. I think Team World is going to come to London seeking revenge and coming out with good intensity and good inspiration from their team Captain John McEnroe.
“It’s a young team, they have powerful players. Jack is back on the team and he will be key in the doubles matches and he has won singles matches. He will be a dangerous ace up their sleeve. All the other players are really good.”
He also enjoys being around fellow Scandinavians, Team Europe Captain Bjorn Borg and Vice Captain Thomas Enqvist, who he says are both easy going. “I appreciate that Scandinavian fellowship. Scandinavia has a lot of tennis history, but mainly because of Sweden. They had many, many top 10 players and several Grand Slam champions like Borg, Edberg, Wilander.”
“I have taken some inspiration from what they did. They came from a small country and they were able to reach many of their goals.”