World No. 8 Casper Ruud sustained an ankle injury during a practice on Sunday and was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open. Ruud, 23, was projected to meet Alex Molcan in the Australian Open first round. Just hours before his Melbourne opener, Ruud pulled out of the opening Grand Slam of the season.
Ruud was replaced by lucky loser Roman Safiullin, who lost to Molcan in four sets. "Hey guys. Unfortunately I had an ankle twist in practice on Sunday. I have done everything I can to heal and be ready for my first round match at the Australian Open but two days just simply wasn't enough time to feel 100% again," Ruud said in a statement.
"It was a very difficult decision to withdraw but I feel like it's the right one and I will now recover as well and fast as possible to be ready for new tournaments and challenges ahead. I'm sorry that it had to end this way at this year's Australian Open but I will stay positive and see you back in court soon again!"
Ruud compares his level to the top-3
Ruud made five finals last year and captured as many titles.
Ruud also broke into the top-10 and made the ATP Finals semifinal in his debut at the season-ending event. However, before the start of the Australian Open, Ruud admitted Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev were on a different level.
“I think that even though I was able to break into the Top 10 last year and have my best year on Tour, I still feel like I’m a little bit behind the really top guys. Djokovic, Medvedev, Zverev, they are a bit on a different level, I think,” Ruud reflected.
“I’ve been able to play them a couple of times and I don’t feel like I’ve been too close, unfortunately."