Casper Ruud explains what makes Rafael Nadal dominant force on clay

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Casper Ruud explains what makes Rafael Nadal dominant force on clay

World No. 7 Casper Ruud has never played Rafael Nadal in a tour level match but he knows how it feels to play the Spaniard since he has practiced with the former world No. 1 several times. Nadal, the greatest clay court player ever, is missing the beginning of the clay season as he pulled out of the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open.

Ruud, who is becoming a dominant force on clay, is a seven-time ATP champion and six of his seven titles came on clay. In an interview with the ATP Tour website, Ruud explained what makes Nadal such a dominant force on clay.

"I have practised with him quite a bit and I think he never gives you room to breathe when you play against him on clay. All the shots he produces are very heavy to face because he puts a lot of topspin and they bounce very high.

Any time you need to play a shot above shoulder height from the baseline or when you play groundstrokes, it’s tough. It’s tough to get good enough depth back when he plays these heavy shots, so he gets a chance many times to move forward and go for an aggressive shot," Ruud told the ATP Tour website."

Ruud: Nadal plays strictly and his forehand is a deadly weapon

"He sets up the point very well and many times the same way. He likes to dominate points with his forehand and I think the majority of his clay-court career, he has been very successful playing his forehand heavy crosscourt to his opponent’s backhand, usually when he plays right-handed players.

Most players struggle with his shots and it’s very normal because they’re very heavy. I think this is what makes him so successful," Ruud added. "He plays every point very, very strictly and with order, like it’s his last point.

I have heard him say that many times before and that’s the reason he never gives you room to breathe. You don’t get too many free points from him in a match or when you play points [in practice]. With the clay, sometimes it’s more physically demanding because you play longer rallies and longer matches, and he’s there ready for it."