Casper Ruud says Rafael Nadal has different personalities on and off the court, hopes to "never break a racket" like the Spaniard

Casper Ruud celebrates his win over Andrey Rublev at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals
Casper Ruud celebrates his win over Andrey Rublev at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals

It is no secret that Rafael Nadal has played a huge role in inspiring Casper Ruud to reach the heights he has. The 22-year-old, who considers the 20-time Grand Slam champion his idol, joined the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor in 2018.

Since then he has made a strong impression on the circuit. Ranked 143rd in 2018, the Norwegian has leapt to a career-high No. 8 in three years, winning six titles along the way. His most recent achievement was booking a place in the semifinals of the prestigious ATP Finals on his debut.

Having truly established himself in the top tier of men's tennis, Ruud opened up about how training with Nadal at his academy boosted his confidence. Ahead of his Turin semifinal against Daniil Medvedev, the San Diego winner spoke to Spanish publication AS about the two different personalities Nadal has on the court and off it.

"He's inspiring," Ruud said. "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 guy and nice. He always says hello and everyone at the academy treats him like a normal person. I think he likes that."

Much like Nadal, Ruud is known for his composed nature. The affable Norwegian rarely goes overboard when his wins nor does he brood over his losses.

Ruud has credited his mindset to none other than Nadal. The World No. 8 revealed that at the start of his career, he had promised to try and never a break a racket just like the Spanish star.

"I told myself that I would try never to break a racket," he said. "And there is only one top-10 who doesn't: Rafa."

Casper Ruud wanted to join the Rafa Nadal academy because of the values Nadal transmits: Coach Pedro Clar

Rafael Nadal in action at the 2021 French Open
Rafael Nadal in action at the 2021 French Open

Pedro Clar, who is one of Ruud's coaches on the circuit as well as at the Nadal Academy, described how much of an impact the former World No. 1 has had on the Norwegian's career.

According to Clar, Ruud wanted to join the academy "because of the values Nadal transmits."

"He was his idol since he was little and that's why he wanted to come to the academy, because of the values he transmits and what Rafa puts on the track," Clar said. "Casper believed that was what he carried inside and that is why being with him motivates him so much, that he always loves him. It helps even if they are still rivals."

Ruud is very open and predisposed to changes: Pedro Clar

Casper Ruud in action at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals
Casper Ruud in action at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals

Having started off primarily as a claycourter, Ruud has made a mark on hardcourts this season. After five titles on the red dirt, the Norwegian tasted glory for the first time on hardcourts at the ATP 250 event in San Diego last month.

Ruud has fortified his serve and has become more aggressive from the baseline, which has contributed to his success at the ongoing ATP Finals.

While discussing the recent improvements to Ruud's game, Clar explained that the Norwegian's belief and work ethic have made it easier for him to adapt to changes and make rapid strides on the circuit.

"With Casper we look for the simple part of everything," Clar said. "We sat down to analyze and see what he had to improve on. He is very open and predisposed to changes in that regard. His day to day is very good. He always adds and is willing to work with good energy and mentality.
"He gradually convinced himself that his level is very good," he added. "The backhand has improved a lot. With the forehand he is much more aggressive, he looks further ahead. He builds the points, but at the same time he is more direct and serves better."

Also check out: Updated Tennis Schedule 2022

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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