Joining Team Europe at Boston 2021 turned out to be a huge confidence booster for Norwegian Casper Ruud.
“I was around great players during the whole week. Learned a little bit from them. Said to myself, ‘I wanna be a part of this group in the future,’” he said.
“It’s a big group of guys who are young and hungry and ready for many years of good tennis and I hope I can be one of those guys.”
Fast forward 12 months and the 24-year-old came within one match of claiming the No.1 ranking in 2022 when he faced Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open final.
It’s one of three major championship matches on Ruud’s glittering record, with others contested on clay at Roland Garros in 2022 and 2023.
As teammate Andrey Rublev puts it, Ruud is a “10-point player, 10-point guy. He will bring calmness. He will bring confidence because he’s fighting no matter what. He’s super professional.”
The word ‘discipline’ is synonymous with Ruud’s approach, and has so far led to a perfect 2-0 record at Laver Cup where he opened the competition in Boston, and last year at The O2 in London.
“He’s going to bring a lot of resilience and discipline to the team,” says Holger Rune.
And from Hubert Hurkacz: “Casper is such a great player, he was in the finals of three Slams, he has a huge forehand and moves really well, he’s smart on the court as well, and a great competitor.”
How it’s going
As the best-performing player in Norwegian tennis history, Ruud has added singles titles in each of the past four seasons, earning his 10th trophy at Estoril this year on clay.
Training at the academy of Rafael Nadal, his childhood idol, Ruud has improved his ranking for seven consecutive years, finishing a career-best 2022 season ranked No.3.
Going into US Open 2023, he had played the title match in three of the last six majors.
Ruud at the Laver Cup
Ruud overcame nerves opening at his debut Laver Cup match in Boston to Reilly Opelka, watched by a famous Team Europe alumni, Roger Federer, who was recovering from surgery at the time.
“I remember the first time playing in front of my teammates and Roger sitting front row. It was a little nerve-wracking, luckily I got the better of Reilly that time and I delivered,” he recalls.
“Last year, kind of the same routine. I opened the whole tie in London at The O2. I was nervous playing in front of a stacked bench, stacked teammates with Roger, Rafa, Novak, Andy and Stef there on the bench cheering on.
“What a feeling having those guys cheer for you, but it’s extra nerve-wracking because it was Roger’s last event and we all wanted to win for Roger in a way and finish his career in the perfect way. We weren’t able to unfortunately – sorry Roger – but at least in my matches I was able to deliver both times. Let’s see what will happen this year.”
Ruud was listed to compete against Taylor Fritz in the last match in London, however, Frances Tiafoe’s earlier victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas sealed the competition for Team World.
“Team World got the better of us, they bounced back, they won a couple of matches that we, Team Europe, wish we could have had back, but that’s how it goes. No need to dwell on the past. It grows the hunger and motivation to bring the Cup back to Europe,” he says.
“This year I think me and Stef and Andrey have played more times than the rest, so let’s see if the three of us can kind of be somewhat of leaders. All the others ones will be excited to be there anyway, and they’re going to bring good energy to the team. We’re going to try to give them some advice and experience.”
The consummate professional has earned his stripes and knows exactly what is required to ride the high-stakes, rollercoaster tennis that marks each Laver Cup.
“To win the Laver Cup we need to be good teammates to each other, we need to back each other and we need to play our best tennis,” he says. “We need to let our Captain Bjorn Borg and Vice-Captain Thomas Enqvist guide us and we will do all in our powers to put on a good show and bring the Cup back.”