Casper Ruud suggests players know they will have to play the best match of their lives for a couple of hours if they want to beat Rafael Nadal on clay. Ruud, 24, has established himself as one of the best clay-court players in the game as eight of his nine titles have come on the dirt.
But even Ruud didn’t stand much of a chance against Nadal in the 2022 French Open final as the Spaniard ousted the Norwegian 6-3 6-3 6-0. “If you want to beat Rafa at Roland-Garros, when you are going out to the match, you are thinking, ‘OK, I’m going to have to play the best match of my life for at least four-and-a-half hours because even though I’m playing great, he will play unbelievable back’ If I play well, he [Nadal] plays well, so it’s going to be a long match.
Not many players are prepared to do that I think and that’s why you have seen some of the clay court players be so successful on clay,” Ruud said on Eurosport’s Ruud Talk podcast.
Ruud on being a player who likes to play on clay
Clay is not really the favorite surface among players.
Now, Ruud is confirming that notion, saying that when the clay season starts “you have people that really don’t want to be there.” For a player like Ruud who likes to play, that is an advantage. “If you look at the top 100 players in the world, I would say like 70 or 75 of them prefer probably to play on hard court.
There are much fewer players that actually like more to play on clay. I feel like I’m one of them and I think that could be somewhat of an advantage. When we come to clay, you have people that really don’t want to be there at all.
They want to get ready for grass and are looking forward for the rest of the year after clay,” Ruud said.