Tennis Prose



Ruud’s Nosedive Is Puzzling

Casper Ruud reached no. 2 in the world last year in September but 2023 has not been kind to the Norwegian.

Ruud has a very average 4-5 match record this year, including losses to Jenson Brooksby at Australian Open, Laslo Djere in Auckland, Taro Daniel in Acapulco and now in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells 64 76 to Christian Garin, who is ranked no. 97. (Garin leads Ruud in career head to head now 3-1.)

The 24 year old winner of nine ATP singles titles is currently ranked 4 but if his poor results continue he will drop out of the top 5 or 10 soon.

Why is Ruud crumbling when his best days should be ahead?

Perhaps Ruud is the inflated beneficiary of the ATP rankings dysfunction of last year when everything was skewed by Djokovic’s absence at two Grand Slams and four Masters Series, not to mention the Wimbledon points cancellation.

But that does not explain Ruud’s losses to much lower ranked players.

Perhaps Ruud has lost a fraction of hunger and ambition and he is not treating every match like life and death – which Mats Wilander once said will result in the player’s ranking dropping.

Or maybe Ruud has already achieved beyond his wildest dreams – no. 2 in the world is a lofty status, among such titans as Michael Chang, Tommy Haas, Petr Korda, etc. And Ruud has earned over $13m in prize money in his career, probably over $20 from endorsements, bonuses and other incomes.

Or Ruud may have his eyes and energy set on clay season and Roland Garros, clay is his best surface.

Whatever it is, Ruud’s mediocrity so far in 2023 is one of the biggest surprise stories so far this season.

Garin quotes after beating Ruud: “I like to play aggressive and move a lot to the net, and I think Casper is a really good player when you give time to him. So I try to go aggressive, go to the net, and play like that… I’ve known Casper for a very long time, so it’s very special to keep playing like this in this tournament, so I want to keep going.”

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