Rising Star Casper Ruud Eyes Bigger Goals Following ATP Cup Scalps - UBITENNIS
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Rising Star Casper Ruud Eyes Bigger Goals Following ATP Cup Scalps

Will the former junior world No.1 make a major breakthrough this year?



Casper Ruud (image via twitter.com/atpcup)

Sunday at the ATP Cup was one filled with mixed emotions for Norwegian star Casper Ruud.

Taking to the courts in Perth, the 21-year-old scored the highest-profile win of his career to date in comprehensive fashion. Facing world No.12 Fabio Fognini, Ruud eased to a 6-2, 6-2, win in just over an hour. Scoring his second win over a top 20 player in three days after his triumph against John Isner on Friday. In his latest match, he won 80% of his first service points without facing a single break point.

“Of course I’m very, very happy and excited about beating another top-20 player and the way I did it also.” Ruud said afterwards. “I played a very good match.The score was more comfortable than against Isner. It was a very long match against John.’
“But today of course was a very tough match because you’re playing a good player, but the score was a little bit more comfortable. That was also very exciting for me.”

Despite his best efforts, the win wasn’t enough to secure Norway an overall victory in the tie. Ruud and Viktor Durasovic was edged out in straight sets by the experience pairing of Fognini and Simone Bolelli in the decisive doubles match. Leaving them third in Group D ahead of their crucial clash with Russia.

Regardless of how the Norwegians fair in the next tie, the limelight has been shined on Ruud and his potential in the sport. Last year he became only the second man from his country to contest an ATP Final at the Houston Open where he lost to Christian Garin. Coincidentally the first Norweigan to do so was his father, Christian back in 1995. Reflecting on his latest victories on the tour, Ruud believes it is down to an improvement in his mental approach to the game.

“I think it’s a lot mental because I felt like over the last two, three years I have been playing some very good tennis at some points, but I think every year you grow up a little bit more and you feel more mature.” He explained.
“I think this year is a year where I have been working a lot on my mentality. Coming out here (Perth), beating two top 20 players at the beginning of the year is a great confidence, of course. And also, feedback to me saying that maybe I belong in this level and I belong around these guys.”

Currently at a career ranking best of 54th in the world, the Next Gen star is on the verge of cracking the top 50. One the goals he has set for 2020. However, he admits that he needs to work harder if he wishes to remain among the best of the world for the rest of the season.

“I think if I’m able to crack the top 50 now and stay in the top 50 for the whole year and hopefully even higher, I think I will be very happy with the year.” Said Ruud.
“There are so many good players these days. You have to be a little bit realistic.”

The next test comes in the form of world No.5 and US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday. Who has also scored wins over Fognini and Isner at the ATP Cup. It will be the first ever meeting between the two players.

“I watched the whole match against Isner. Great two wins for him.” Medvedev said of Ruud during his press conference.
“It’s going to be fun to play him. Of course, I have some things in my mind already talking about tactics. But looking forward. Hopefully I can show good game. If I do it, I think I’ll have my chances.”

A Norwegian player is yet to break into the world’s top 30 on the ATP Tour.


Rafael Nadal To Play Laver Cup In Berlin



Rafael Nadal has eased speculation that he might be retiring from the sport soon after signing on to play in the Laver Cup later this year. 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is the latest player to join the line-up for this year’s team competition which features Europe taking on the rest of the world over three days. It will be Nadal’s fourth appearance in the competition and his first since 2022. He competed in the inaugural edition of the event back in 2017 alongside co-founder Roger Federer. 

“I am very happy to be playing Laver Cup in Berlin for Team Europe,” Nadal said in a press release. “I have some really special memories from my Laver Cup experiences, including all the emotions from London two years ago playing alongside Roger for the last time.”

Nadal’s decision to play comes amid questions about his future in the sport. The former world No.1 has previously indicated that this year could be his last on the Tour but he has stated that no decision has been made. In recent months he has been sidelined from action due to injury setbacks and has only been able to play in two tournaments so far this year. 

“At this stage in my career I really want to go out there and make the most of every opportunity I am given,” he explains.
“Teaming up is always an incredible experience and I have always enjoyed it, the competition is different and exciting. I’m looking forward to going to Berlin and helping Team Europe win back the Laver Cup.”

Other European players confirmed to be playing are Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul have agreed to play for Team World. This year’s event will be held in Belin at the Uber Arena between September 20-22. 

The Laver Cup was inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup. It was co-founded by Federer’s Team8 management company (which he formed with agent Tony Godsick), businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann and Tennis Australia. In 2019 it became an official ATP sanction event and now has a place on the official calendar. 

Nadal is set to return to competitive action at the Madrid Masters which he has won on five previous occasions. He has been drawn to play teenage wild card Darwin Blanch in the first round. If he wins, Nadal will then play Alex de Minaur who knocked him out of the Barcelona Open last week. 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence



Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils



Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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