Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud recently gave their thoughts on each other's games ahead of their round-robin clash at the 2021 ATP Finals. While Djokovic believes Ruud will give it his all since he has nothing to lose, the Norwegian knows he is in for a tough task against an opponent with "no weaknesses."
Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud have been placed in the Green Group of the ATP Finals and will square off against each other on Monday.
Speaking to the media ahead of his tournament opener, Djokovic called Casper Ruud one of the hardest workers on tour. The Serb firmly believes Ruud deserves his place in Turin, given the phenomenal season he has had.
The Norwegian, who is making his debut at the season-ending championships this year, has won a whopping five titles in 2021 and boasts a 53-15 win-loss record.
"Casper is one of the hardest working players that we have on the tour and he absolutely deserves to be here, qualifying for his first World Tour Finals," Novak Djokovic said. "He's had an impressive year, he's won a lot of titles and he's been one of the most consistent players."
Djokovic and Ruud have only faced each other once before, with the Serb emerging victorious at the Rome Masters last year. Recalling that match, Djokovic asserted that Ruud would put up a tough fight since he does not have anything to lose.
"(Ruud is a) very, very nice guy, we get along very well," Djokovic said. "We haven't played each other many times, think only on clay last year, was a close match. He has not much to lose. It's his first time playing in a World Tour Finals.
"I'm sure that he wants to make a statement, he wants to start off the tournament you know with the win so I'm sure he's going to give his all and I know I'll be in for a fight and hopefully I can open this tournament the way I finished at Paris-Bercy."
Casper Ruud also spoke about the prospect of facing five-time ATP Finals champion Djokovic. Ruud believes Djokovic is the "toughest player" one can face on tour and joked that he might ask Daniil Medvedev for tips on how to beat the Serb. The Russian beat Djokovic in the US Open final earlier this year.
“It feels exciting [as he is] the toughest player to play in the world,” said Ruud. “He knows the routine and has won the event many times. He almost won four majors this year, and there was only one player that stopped him. I did watch the US Open final, so I may ask Daniil how he beat him!"
According to the eighth seed, Djokovic is a "complete player" with "no weaknesses".
"Novak is a complete player with pretty much no weaknesses," Ruud added. "I will try and enjoy the moment, but I know it’s a tough task ahead on Monday.”
"Casper Ruud has improved a lot on hardcourt, which was not his preferred surface" - Novak Djokovic
Casper Ruud was widely regarded as a claycourt specialist before the 2021 season. That notion seems to have changed this year, with Ruud making the quarterfinals of three hardcourt Masters 100 events - Toronto, Cincinnati, and Paris.
The 22-year-old also recently lifted his maiden hardcourt title, thrashing the in-form Cameron Norrie 6-0, 6-2 to win the San Diego Open.
Novak Djokovic, on his part, feels that Ruud has "improved a lot" on hardcourt. Djokovic highlighted how the Norwegian has worked hard to make adjustments to his game on the surface.
"He has improved a lot on the hardcourt which was not his preferred surface," Djokovic said. "I mean he has had throughout his career the most success on clay. But he has improved a lot on hardcourt the way he moves, the way he hits the ball, his positioning in the court is different as well. And it's all due to his working ethics and his commitment and dedication to this sport and trying to perfect his game."