Casper Ruud’s 2022 Australian Open ended earlier than it started. Throughout apply forward of the season’s first main, the Norwegian damage his ankle, forcing him to withdraw from the match.

Because the world’s finest gamers kicked into excessive gear at Melbourne Park, Ruud sat on a aircraft house doing workouts to maintain his ankle.

“My ankle was nonetheless just a little swollen and stiff, so I needed to do all these workouts whereas on the aircraft to maintain the blood flowing and preserve it transferring just a little bit in order that it wouldn’t swell up fully,” Ruud informed “But it surely was positive. It’s all the time kind of good to return house regardless of the way you do, however it was powerful to just accept that I couldn’t even play some extent after which watched the entire match from house for 2 weeks in a row.”

Ruud remembers the flight being ‘just a little boring’. As a substitute of making ready for a match, he was doing workouts with a rubber band.

“For positive it’s irritating, however it’s not the tip of the world,” Ruud stated. “That’s the nice factor with tennis, that there’s a brand new likelihood coming proper across the nook. Whether or not it’s an ATP match or a Grand Slam, there’s all the time one thing occurring.”

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Some gamers would view the scenario as a glass half empty. It was a depleting second for a participant who was then at a career-high No. 8 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. However Ruud used the frustration to see his glass half full.

“Accidents might be actually powerful for you, but in addition motivating,” Ruud stated. “You wish to come again and get your revenge.”

Ruud returned to motion within the second week of February, when he competed in Buenos Aires. The Norwegian dropped only one set en path to the clay-court title. But it surely was not all excellent news.

“Within the remaining of Buenos Aires I had a small pressure in my indirect muscle so I needed to pull out of Rio and return [home] once more,” Ruud stated. “So it was just a little little bit of a troubling begin for me at first of the 12 months. However I felt I had achieved nicely with the probabilities I received.”

Many gamers would have taken months to search out their footing after such a tough begin to the 12 months. However Ruud went on to get pleasure from one of the best season of his profession, reaching his first two main finals at Roland Garros and the US Open. At Flushing Meadows, Ruud was one victory from changing into the No. 1 participant on the planet.

“I’ve had a whole lot of nice moments after Australia final 12 months that kind of made up for a troublesome interval, however there after which it was powerful. You hope to have a very good begin after which you need to return house and never even play some extent, not even getting any factors in your rating and all this stuff,” Ruud stated. “It was powerful, however in the long run I believe I’m fairly good at trying forward sooner or later and already going again [home], I used to be motivated to get again to apply — at any time when that point was going to return — and play tournaments once more.”

The 24-year-old is named a tough employee in addition to a gentleman on and off the court docket. In 2022, he acquired the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. However that doesn’t imply he doesn’t have a aggressive hearth burning inside, in line with his father and coach, Christian Ruud.

“Since he was younger he all the time wished to play with the ball and compete. In soccer, ice hockey, tennis, he wished to win. You possibly can see each apply, each match he performed in tennis, in soccer, he wished to win,” Christian stated. “I believe in all probability 80 per cent of the children begin to cry after they don’t win, so he was first in that class additionally.

“However after I actually began to imagine in him was when he performed the European Championships Below 14 and he was not thought of one of many favourites. He was not even seeded I don’t suppose and he went to the ultimate, beating the taller guys. He was not likely tall and large at that age. Then I discovered, ‘Okay, this man has one thing that we will attempt to work on’.”

Now Ruud is an Australian Open title — and probably a remaining, relying on Stefanos Tsitsipas’ outcomes — from changing into the No. 1 participant on the planet. He’ll start his Melbourne run Tuesday towards Czech Tomas Machac.

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Ruud’s newest flight to Australia was extra nice than his journey house a 12 months in the past. A self-proclaimed “huge sci-fi film man”, he watched Black Adam, starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

One 12 months in the past, Ruud’s Australian Open by no means started. Now the Norwegian shall be focussed on making a splash Down Below. Contemporary off a run to the championship match on the Nitto ATP Finals, Ruud is hungry to proceed bettering and make his mark.

“That’s the wonderful thing about tennis, it’s not like a online game the place you’ll run the sport in some unspecified time in the future. It’s a sport you could solely grasp if you end up [at] your personal restrict,” Ruud stated. “Everybody is aware of that permit’s say when you run tennis you’ll hit each winner attainable and that’s not attainable in the long run. You’re going to should hit an ace each time you serve, hit a return winner each time you come back. That’s by no means going to occur.

“You possibly can solely get as shut as attainable to this, the place that’s solely your personal process to take action. By realizing that, I do know that I can all the time enhance my backhand, I can enhance my forehand regardless that my forehand is possibly my greatest weapon, I nonetheless have to enhance it. Motion on court docket, mentality, there’s a lot to tennis you could all the time enhance and should work on.”

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