We asked Casper Ruud (21) what he thinks of some of tennis’ “bad boys”. This week, one of them could be his toughest challenger in the battle for a new ATP title.
RYEN (Nettavisen): Despite a season that was amputated due to the corona, Casper Ruud has managed to make a big success in 2020.
In February, he won his first ATP title in Argentina and after the corona break, the snarøya boy can point to the semifinals in Rome and Hamburg, as well as a new career best on the ATP rankings, with his 25th place.
Ahead of the ATP 250 tournament on the Sardinia gravel this week, the Norwegian is seeded as number three and is the bookmakers’ favorite to win the tournament.
One of his biggest challengers in the battle for the title will probably be the first-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini – one of several splashes of color on the ATP tour.
The day before Ruud’s departure for Sardinia, we asked the Norwegian tennis star about Fognini and a few more of tennis ‘more untraditional players – tennis’ “bad boys”.
Medvedev – Russian class and aggression
Ruud ended up, during the ATP Cup earlier this year in a discussion with a very angry Daniil Medvedev. The Russian, who is now ranked number six in the world, thought Ruud should have complained about a ball that went through the net.
However, the Norwegian stood his ground and informed Medvedev that it was the Russian who got a simple ball due to the net hit.
Ruud believes the Russian is a type of player who can get even better when he fires up.
– He is a slightly strange and special guy. Actually, I think he is nice, but we players have an extreme competitive instinct, and sometimes it can turn a little black for us. It can happen to anyone, but I see that he gets into some discussions sometimes. He is an extremely good player, and it is almost better when he does not get excited. It seems as if he delivers even better tennis then, says Ruud to Nettavisen.
Mutual settlement: Medvedev vs. Ruud 1-0
Fognini – Italian passion
Fabio Fognini is another player with skills and temperament at the same high level. The Italian is the first seed in the Sardinia tournament this week and ranked as number 16 in the world.
– He is an extremely good tennis player. It’s hard to understand him sometimes, because he can be so extremely good, so the next day it may seem like he is not interested in being on a tennis court. Everyone on the tour respects how good he is and how good tennis he can deliver. He showed it last year in Monte Carlo when he won the tournament and beat Nadal in the semifinals, says Ruud about the Italian.
Mutual settlement: Fognini vs. Ruud 0-2
Paire – French arrogance and madness
Frenchman Benoit Paire goes on to be among the tour’s angriest and most outgoing. He has shown this repeatedly with racket crushing and insults from both referees and opponents.
Paire is ranked number 26 in the world – the place behind Ruud and has lost both of his two meetings with the Norwegian.
1. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
3. Dominic Thiem (AUT)
4. Roger Federer (SUI)
5. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
6. Daniil Medvedev (RUS)
7. Alexander Zverev (GER)
8. Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
9. Matteo Berrettini (ITA)
Andrej Rublev (RUS)
25. Casper Ruud (NOR)
– He is also an exciting character. I’ve met him twice now, and none of them have been his best days, but I know how good he can be. He has won several tournaments on the ATP Tour and has gone quarterfinals and quarterfinals in the Grand Slam, so he is definitely a good tennis player.
– He is also someone who can quarrel a little now and then. When I was going to play against him in Hamburg, I watched his match from Rome this year, where he lost to Sinner. Then he was not in a good mood either, so there are some who are like that. Especially he and Fognini can play extremely well, while other days it seems that they are completely uninterested in being there, says Ruud about Paire.
Mutual settlement: Paire vs. Ruud 0-2
Nick Kyrgios – the Australian savage
The wildest of them all is perhaps the Australian Nick Kyrgios. The 25-year-old is not afraid to say his opinion and constantly ends up in public mouthing with his colleagues on the tour.
Kyrgios is opposed to Ruud’s favorite cover, gravel, and believes real tennis is played on grass and hard court.
The Canberra man has also gone after Casper Ruud branded the Norwegian as boring last autumn.
– He can probably also blacken it a bit too, without me having to say so much more than that. Those who watch him play know how those matches can go. He, like Fognini and Paire, is an extremely good tennis player if he really wants to. He’s probably one of the most dangerous out there when he’s on, because he has an extremely good serve. It’s very difficult to break his serve, and then he comes up with some extreme punches in between, which are incredibly fun to watch. It’s a shame for the fans when he is uninterested. That’s how it can happen to him sometimes, says Ruud.
Mutual settlement: Kyrgios vs. Ruud 0-1
Casper Ruud is directly qualified for the second round of the Sardinia tournament this week and will play his first match on Thursday. There he meets the winner of Salvatore Caruso and Yanick Hanfmann.