Saqib Ali — Tennis With An Accent
I caught up with Casper Ruud in Portugal at the Estoril Open. I asked him what he thought about Madrid and Rome becoming two-week tournaments. Ruud gave a long and thoughtful answer in which he mentioned the benefits of the schedule structure but was concerned about players from outside continents and are far away from their home base.
Here’s what Ruud told me:
“It’s gonna be interesting to see. What I don’t like is that if you’re seeded and a top-10 player, which doesn’t allow you to play challengers, if you lose your first match (in Madrid), you have to wait two weeks until you play in Rome. Imagine someone like Diego Schwartzman, who is from Argentina and travels probably with four or five people on his team. He cannot really go back to Argentina if he loses in Madrid. He will have to stay in Europe. He will have to pay for a big apartment to rent for two weeks or he will have to pay for four or five hotel rooms and travel expenses. It’s not really great. This could be someone else from a country which is far away from Europe, like Taylor Fritz. It’s tough for them to know what to do. Me, I’m luckier because Norway is two hours from Spain or three hours to fly. If I lose early in Spain I can go home and do many things, but for people like this (Diego, Fritz) it’s a little difficult. You won’t really see Taylor Fritz showing up in a challenger.
“There are some positive things if you do well: You have days off and can rest, prepare and get ready. You don’t have to play back-to-back-to-back all the time, but if you don’t do well, it’s a little tricky. Let’s see how it goes and how the players find it. I like it because of the days we have to recover, but it can be tricky in some situations.
“For me when I’m in Indian Wells and if I lose my first match and have two weeks until my next match in Miami? Maybe in my case it’s fine because I like to play golf, so I can play golf, but I still have to rent a house or pay for hotel rooms for two weeks. I have mixed feelings.”