Saqib Ali — Tennis With An Accent
Casper Ruud talked to me and other assembled members of the press after his Friday win over Sebastian Baez at the 2023 Estoril Open.
Here are some small excerpts of what he had to say. Ruud offered long and thoughtful answers to a series of questions. We’ll share more of his answers as the clay season continues.
First, Ruud talked about the win over Baez:
“All the really close games, I was able to win them — that’s sometimes how it goes,” Ruud said. “It’s not very often that you win a set 6-0 on the ATP Tour. Anytime you can it’s a good feeling. You have to keep your feet down and not get too excited. There’s another match tomorrow.
“In the second set, when you win the first set, you have a break, it’s easier to relax and play more freely. Obviously clay felt very good from the first session I was here, but even though I lost some matches (earlier in 2023) that I wished I could win and probably should win, I felt like I was pretty close in many matches. Two matches I lost this year were 7-6 in the third. With Botic (Van de Zandschulp) in Miami, I had so many chances to win the match, it was almost a joke with how stupid I was doing at the net. I feel like I was playing better and better — the margins weren’t on my side, but then you have a match like today (Baez) where I win all the close games. A match like this could turn everything around this season. There are so many good players these days, the margins are small, and every match you win is important. That’s my mentality for this clay season.”
I asked Ruud if he needs more matches or not as he continues with his 2023 campaign:
“Last year I had those four weeks — I made the semis of Rome and then I went straight to Geneva and won there and then straight to Paris and made the finals,” Ruud told me. “There were a lot of matches back to back to back. Physically I like it because I was able to take it, but then at the U.S. Open where I did really well (making the final), I had 11 days or 12 days since I lost in Cincinnati until the U.S. Open started. I went to play golf for three days and then I trained very well for one week before the U.S. Open. It’s never easy to know what’s going to work or not. I haven’t played many matches this year. Let’s try to play many matches on clay. I have to be in this mentality that clay is very important for my year and my career.”
We will have more to say about Casper Ruud after his Saturday semifinal against Quentin Halys.