World no. 36 Casper Ruud had all the reasons to be happy with the start of the season, reaching two ATP finals and lifting the first ATP trophy in Buenos Aires. The first ATP champion from Norway had a successful clay swing in February, traveling back home to Oslo and playing for his country against Barbados.
As it turned out, it was his last match of the season so far, with the coronavirus halting the action for five months and keeping the players in their homes. Casper has taken the most from the break, spending time with his family, friends and girlfriend, also finding time for things that would have been impossible during the regular season, like playing golf.
The Norwegian has worked hard on his game in the last couple of months, adding the aggressive note and looking eager to show that on the court as soon as possible. "I hope everyone is doing well during these tough times!
I just moved into a new apartment here in Oslo, so that's been quite a project. It's actually been pretty busy with a lot going on, and I've made sure to spend time with my family, friends and girlfriend. Oslo is next to the sea, so I've been heading out on a boat every now and then, having some nice dinners with friends.
I'm just trying to take some time off and disconnect from tennis a bit because, in a year, we play so many tournaments, traveling all over the world, so while hard work is essential, it's good to disconnect here and there, too.
I want to tell you something about me you might not know: I love golf! During my free time here in Oslo, I've been playing a lot of it. It's a big passion of mine and I've been playing since I'm pretty young.
I try to play as much golf as I can, but I have to spend some time with my girlfriend because golf takes a lot of time! It takes half a day to play a full round of 18 holes, and that's the issue. If it was an hour or two or three less, it would be better, but at the same time you always want to play 18 holes when you go out there, so you have to try to balance a bit the golf and time with the close ones.
At the same time, many of us tennis players are excited to start competing in our sport again; it's something we miss. It's not been too easy to find the best sparring partners in Oslo, but I've been doing well, hitting with some junior players and don't feel too far off from the level and the tempo of the big guys.
I'm getting even more motivated to get back to the Tour. Luckily because the coronavirus has not been too bad here, I've been able to practice since the beginning of April and treat this as a training period. I think it's been an advantage that I'm pretty young.
It's easier for the young guys to keep the high level and intensity up than the older guys. This period could be an advantage for us if we use the time well. I haven't made any significant technical changes to my game.
However, I would say I've made useful improvements in many different areas.
I've tried taking my game to a new level by trying new ways of playing.
I've purposely practiced inside the court and been much more aggressive.
I've been ridiculously offensive in some practices, just to try it and understand what it feels like to play like that so that if I do it in matches, I'll be more comfortable. Doing things you don't usually do is important.
It's been a good period for me to develop my game that way. When the Tour stopped in Indian Wells, it was hard to know if we should plan for two months off or half a year off, and it's been challenging to understand how hard to train and for how long.
I've been doing more or less five or six days a week of tough sessions and enjoying some time off, especially in the afternoons. I try to practice in the morning, to have some time off to do something else like golf, because if you just practice week after week, you'll eventually get tired of it.
Whenever I've stepped on court during this period, I've done it with good focus and intensity. Being at home in Oslo has been nice. If I have a good career, this will hopefully be my last summer here in Norway for the next ten to 15 years.
I have enjoyed it, but have also been focusing well. I've been able to keep my motivation up and enjoying some time off on the weekends, and then when I'm back Monday, I'm motivated for good practices. At the same time, everyone has to take care of the virus because it's very serious worldwide. I hope everyone stays safe and to see you on the court soon," said Casper Ruud.