Casper Ruud entered the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters with a point to prove. After five matches in the Principality, the 22-year-old has done just that and more.
In the week before the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, Ruud was beaten in the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open quarter-finals by 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz. Ruud used his loss to the #NextGenATP Spaniard as a source of motivation in Monte-Carlo. He wanted to take his game to the next level.
“It’s a nice confidence booster [to reach the semi-finals],” said Ruud. “Coming into this week, I played pretty well in Marbella, but I lost to a good young player. I got a tough beating there. He was playing very well. [It] surprised me a bit how well Alcaraz was playing back in Marbella. He showed me that the young guys are coming. I felt like it was time for me to step up a little bit.”
Ruud was aiming to reach his maiden Masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo, but he was unable to overcome sixth seed Andrey Rublev on Court Rainier III. The World No. 27’s run to the final four at the Monte-Carlo Country Club marked his second straight semi-final appearance at a clay Masters 1000 event (Rome 2020).
“I played well here in Monte-Carlo, which gave me confidence,” said Ruud. “Unfortunately, [it] wasn’t to be today. It’s been a good week. I’ve been playing good matches and beating good players. It’s a very good start of the clay court season for me.”
En route to the semi-finals, Ruud beat a trio of established ATP Tour stars best known for their clay-court prowess. The Oslo native, who trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca, defeated World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman, Marbella titlist Pablo Carreno Busta and defending champion Fabio Fognini in consecutive matches.
“I had some good wins here,” said Ruud. “The three previous rounds against Schwartzman, Carreno Busta and Fognini, I played well. I was able to beat very good players, especially on a clay court, which I think is their best surface.”
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Ruud is keen to use his strong performance in the Principality as a springboard. Last year’s Buenos Aires titlist is already focused on testing his skills at future events, including back-to-back Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome next month.
“I’m taking with me a lot of confidence for the next tournaments. I’m really looking forward to the next Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome, where I will try to do my best to try to defend my semi-final from last year,” said Ruud. “I have good memories from Rome. And I’m looking forward to playing Madrid. It will be my first time playing the main draw event there.
“Some nice weeks [are] coming. It’s been a very good start of the European clay court season for me. I’m ready for the next tournaments.”