Casper Ruud, often regarded as a claycourt specialist, surprised everyone by reaching the semifinals of the 2022 US Open, but the Norwegian himself doesn't think it is out of the ordinary.
With Rafael Nadal, holder of a record 14 titles at the French Open, and Dominic Thiem, another prominent claycourter, among the former champions at Flushing Meadows, Ruud revealed that he took inspiration from them for his miraculous run this past week.
Facing off against Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals, the World No. 7 put in a sublime display of tennis, beating the Italian 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4) in straight sets.
Speaking at his press conference afterward, Ruud pondered how the US Open has always had more variety in its list of champions than any other Major.
"I think if you look at this tournament, US Open, and a couple of players who have been known as clay court players, let's say Rafa and Thiem, they have both won here, and [Nadal] has won it four times," Casper Ruud said. "When you look at the Champions Wall in the locker room here, you see there are many different players who have won this tournament."
This year as well, New York is bound to have a new champion, and the 23-year-old sees no reason as to why it shouldn't be him. With the city romantically regarded as a "City of Dreams," the Norwegian hopes to use some of that energy to help his game and go all the way at Flushing Meadows.
"This is a Grand Slam the last 18 or 19 years that had more winners than the rest of them, because I'm not sure why, but there is something special I guess with this place," he said, adding, "This year I'm pretty sure there will be new first-time winner here this year also. It shows that it's possible to do it here in New York. It's sort of a city of dreams, I guess, and I guess that's helping me with my game and my motivation."
Ruud went on to admit that he was a little surprised to reach the semifinals too, but added that his final run at the Miami Open this year, where he finished second-best to Carlos Alcaraz, showed him that he was capable of beating good players on hardcourts.
"I'm honestly a bit surprised that I made it to the semis here, but I think I have developed my hard court game a lot the last year or two, and I think Miami this year showed me and I proved to myself that I can, you know, beat good players and reach later stages in big hard court tournaments. That has been a sort of confidence booster for myself," he said.
"It's not like I don't enjoy playing on the hard court at all or that I don't know how to do it" - Casper Ruud
Casper Ruud further revealed during the press conference that he had spent a lot of time playing on hardcourts as a child in Norway, which meant that, contrary to public perception, it wasn't as if he did not enjoy playing on the surface.
"I think obviously when I grew up in Norway I played six months of the year in clay and six months of the year indoor hard court because of the weather, so it's not like I don't enjoy playing on the hard court at all or that I don't know how to do it, because I did it quite a lot when I was younger," Casper Ruud said.
Just because he feels a little more comfortable on clay, the World No. 7 doesn't think people should be surprised when he gets good results on hardcourts, a sentiment that will hopefully go away after his recent exploits on it.
"And just the fact that maybe I prioritized or feel a little bit more comfortable on clay myself at this time of my career or during my career doesn't mean I don't like to play on hard court or that I cannot have good results here," Casper Ruud said.
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