Casper Ruud produced a brilliant performance to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4 in the Madrid Open third round on Thursday. And after the win, Ruud gave credit to the work and preparation that he has done with Rafael Nadal at his academy in Mallorca.
"Every time I go to the academy, we (him and Rafael Nadal) talk to each other, we train with each other," Ruud said.
The Norwegian went on to heap words of praise on Pedro Clar, one of the Pro-Tour coaches at the academy, for being by his side during some of the biggest events of his career.
"Pedro Clar is the one who travels the most with me," Ruud said. "We have a very good relationship. He's here this week. He's been with me with some of my biggest tournaments and wins. When I won my first tournament in Buenos Aires, my first semi-final in Rome last year, Pedro was with me. I think it helped me a lot."
Casper Ruud has been a regular at the Rafa Nadal Academy since 2019. His win over Tsitsipas means that the 22-year-old has now reached back-to-back Masters 1000 quarterfinals; he had also put together a semifinal run in Monte Carlo last month.
Ruud has been one of the most consistent claycourt players on the ATP tour over the last couple of years. His career win-loss record on the surface is now an impressive 53-28.
The Norwegian went on to attribute a part of his recent run of strong results to the 'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal himself.
"I must mention it - Rafa has helped me a lot in recent years, to reach this level, it's obvious," Ruud asserted.
Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni is still involved in my tennis: Casper Ruud
Casper Ruud was also complimentary of Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni, for speaking with him personally and helping him through his development as a player.
Toni Nadal is now part of the coaching team of Felix Auger-Aliassime, whom Ruud beat in the first round at Madrid. However, the Norwegian revealed that Toni still gives him advice from time to time.
"Getting help from Toni is invaluable as well and although he helps Felix more personally, he is still involved in my tennis," Ruud said.
Casper Ruud will take on Alexander Bublik in the Madrid Open quarterfinals on Friday. The Norwegian could set up a duel with Rafael Nadal in the Spanish capital if both progress to the final.
Nadal himself faces a stern test in the quarterfinal against Alexander Zverev.