Casper Ruud (Oslo, 22 years old) was 143rd in the world when he arrived at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor in 2018. Three years later he is eighth in the ranking, has accumulated six titles and is a semifinalist in the Masters. “With Casper we looked for the simple part of everything. We sat down to analyze and see where we had to improve. He is very open and predisposed to changes in that sense. His daily life is very good. “He always adds up and is willing to work with good energy and mentality,” account to AS in Turin Pedro Clara 35-year-old former Mallorcan player who shares the coaching duties in Manacor and on the circuit with the tennis player’s father, Christian, who was top-40 in 1995.
“He convinced himself that his level is very good,” says the coach, which explains why he took a big leap in quality on hard court. “The backhand has improved him a lot. With the forehand he is much more aggressive, he looks more forward. He builds the points, but at the same time he is more direct and serves better.”
On the other hand, sharing training with Nadal helped him a lot. “He was his idol since he was little and that’s why he wanted to come to the academy, because of the values it transmits and what Rafa puts on the court. Casper believed that that was what he had inside him and that is why being with him motivates him so much, that he always helps him even though they are still rivals,” argues Clar. Ruud corroborates this: “It’s inspiring. Very competitive, it doesn’t matter if it’s tennis or golf. And he has two personalities, one on the court where he is fierce, tough and plays with great intensity; and another outside, where he is a very normal and nice guy. He always says hello and at the academy everyone treats him like a normal person. “I think he likes that.”
“When he arrived, it was difficult to organize all the tennis he had,” continues Clar, who highlights his “Nordic character.” “He is very calm, he neither goes crazy with victories nor sinks after defeats. I encourage him to show his strength more.” Ruud, with a reputation for being kind among his teammates, set a goal for himself when he started his career, which connected him with Nadal. “I told myself that I would try to never break a racket. And there is only one top-10 player who doesn’t: Rafa.” Also for this reason, Casper is an example for the youngest members of the academy according to Clar: “We tell them to pay attention to him, that with work and discipline you can get there.”