Casper Ruud, 23, says his first memory from tennis is watching Rafael Nadal win his first French Open title. Nadal, a record 13-time French Open champion, captured his maiden French Open title in 2005 after beating Marino Puerta in the final.
Unfortunately for Ruud, he still hasn't had a chance to play against 21-time Grand Slam champion Nadal. "The first memory I have from tennis is watching Rafael Nadal on TV, when he won the French Open for the first time," Ruud said in his interview with Tennis Channel, as quoted on Sportskeeda.
"I remember thinking, I want to be playing on the big stage one day. That's where the first motivation came."
Ruud enjoying a career-high of No. 8 in the world
"Looking back on breaking into the top 10, it has been a dream of mine," Ruud said.
"[The 2021] Monte-Carlo and Madrid [Masters] were game-changers for me and gave me the confidence to keep going and thinking, 'I can compete with the best players on the biggest stages in the world'" Ruud broke into the top-10 last mostly due to his strong results on clay.
"I enjoy playing on clay," Ruud said. "I think my game style suits the surface better because the ball bounces up a little bit more. My spin shots are a bit heavier on the clay and it is tougher for my opponents.
Unfortunately, it did not go as well as I hoped in Roland Garros. That was a very tough and bitter loss. At the same time it gives me the motivation to come back." Last year, Ruud captured three ATP titles on clay in as many weeks.
Ruud made it all the way in Bastad, Kitzbuhel and Gstaad. "The three weeks where I won back-to-back-to-back is something I will always remember," Ruud said. "The third one is remarkable because it was the third one in a row but all of them tasted just as good as the other ones."