What Does The Future Hold For Casper Ruud?
Tennis is currently in a transitional period of players with members of the old guard starting to take a backseat to young and upcoming talent. With Roger Federer announcing his retirement in September 2022 and his long-time dance partner Rafael Nadal seemingly hinting at 2023 being his final ATP Tour, many tennis fans and critics are wondering who will take the places of the two icons.
One such name is that of 24-year-old world No. 3 Casper Ruud. The Norwegian rose all the way up to a career high of world No. 2 upon Federer’s retirement last year and his performances in that tour left no doubt as to why. He reached the finals of the US and French Open and despite losing in straight sets to Nadal in Paris, he narrowly missed out in New York in a thriller with Carlos Alcaraz (6–4, 2–6, 7–6(7–1), 6–3). Sports betting odds currently have him just below the big favourites to rectify these defeats in 2023 and he has a better chance than any to do just that. So who is Casper Ruud? Let’s take a look at the story so far.
He started playing tennis at just 4 years old under the tutelage of his father, Christian Ruud, a former pro tennis player himself. As a child he looked up to Rafael Nadal and has long since moulded his career trajectory around that of the ‘King Of Clay’.
Ruud turned pro in 2015 at the age of 17 and made his way to becoming the world No. 1 ranked junior player in 2016, the first Norwegian to do so. Early that same year he played his first Futures final in a winning effort against Carlos Taberner in Paguera, Spain. He continued to impress and recorded his first wins over players ranked in the top 150 when he beat Iñigo Cervantes and Taro Daniel in the Copa Sevilla. He would finish that year with a career high ranking of No. 225 in the ATP rankings.
The following year he would make his first appearances in an ATP 500 and 1000 event, reaching the semifinal of the Rio Open, the first of his ATP Semifinal appearances. He would better his career high ranking this year, climbing up to No. 133 and would go on to make his major debuts in 2018. He was the first Norwegian to qualify for a Grand Slam main draw in 17 years appearing in the French, US and Australian open before appearing at Wimbledon for the first time in 2019.
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It was 2020 though when he would start to really assert himself on an international level. He won his first ATP title that year at the Argentina Open and strong performances in his Grand Slam appearances made him the highest ranked Norwegian tennis player of all time when he reached No. 39 in February, ending the season at No. 25. Five titles in 2021 finally got him into the top 10 before a monumental 2022 saw him overtake his idol Nadal in the rankings after two Grand Slam & ATP Finals finals.
Ruud’s athleticism has aided his excellent young career so far and it was apparent from an early age that he was destined to be a sportsman. As well as tennis, he excelled in soccer, ice hockey and golf before settling on tennis at age 11 to follow in his father’s footsteps. A consummate professional on and off the court, he was awarded the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award in 2022.
Ruud has a huge 2023 ahead of him as he looks to build on his career high ranking in 2022 and this could be the year he finally adds a Grand Slam title victory to his resume. The likes of Djokovic and Nadal will no doubt continue to impress and whilst he may have a way to go until he can boast a trophy cabinet like theirs, he is definitely on the right track.
He may have a chance to rectify his defeat to Nadal in the French Open this year and beating the Spaniard would be more than just a feather in his cap as he looks to become a real force in the majors. Though the big names have got the better of him so far in his career, at just 24 he is still improving. The fresh-faced star has bags of talent and time on his side and he may well be the rightful heir to his idol’s throne.