By Erik Gudris | @atntennis | Saturday, June 3, 2023
Casper Ruud, nicknamed “Casper the Ghost” last year because he seemingly spirited himself into the Roland Garros second week without a lot of fanfare, is doing it again this year in Paris.
Last year’s finalist and No. 4 seed Ruud enjoyed a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 win over China’s Zhang Zhizhen to reach the fourth round on Saturday.
The 24 year old Norwegian is fine being under the radar once again and is not dwelling too much on losing in last year’s final to Rafael Nadal.
Taking care of business 👉 @CasperRuud
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2023
“I’m not really haunted by what happened last year in the final honestly. I mean, like I said, I think last year I’m not the first victim to lose to Rafa in the final,” Ruud said. “Of course I wish I could have done a little better and so on, but was my first one,” Ruud said in his post match press conference.
“Physically I was maybe a bit tired, you know, taking into account I had made semis in Rome and won Geneva and came straight here. So it was a lot of matches for me and not blaming my physical aspects for the loss or anything. But it was tough to play the toughest player you can play on clay in the first final.
“Not really haunted by it, but yeah, I think (there are) some more eyes on me maybe this year than last year. But yeah, it’s been sort of quiet so far. Been able to do my job and play my matches and get on in the tournament.”
That Ruud is not being talked about much this year in Paris is somewhat surprising, considering his breakout season last year that included reaching two major finals – Roland Garros and the US Open. Yet, so far in 2023 Ruud hasn’t made a ton of noise and has struggled for the first part of the season.
Ruud turned things around once he hit the clay. He won his first title of the year in Estoril and then reached the Rome semifinals. Those results have Ruud feeling much better about his chances in Paris.
“Yeah, level is getting better. I think I still don’t feel like I’m playing like, what should I say, error-free, in a way. I still feel like there are things I can improve and I can make less errors than I have done in some moments in my matches. So I still feel like there is a level that I haven’t played yet that I can bring out and I will need to bring out now going into the second week, for sure.”
Ruud added, “But I’m through to the second week and the fourth round. I’m going to try to let a little bit more loose and feel like I have won some good matches so far. So I’m going to try to build on it.”
Next up Ruud will be a tough test against Chile’s Nicolas Jarry in the fourth round. Jarry beat Ruud the last time they faced each other in Geneva a few weeks ago before the Chilean went on to win the title.
Yeah, if I play Jarry, it’s going to be another tough match. It was close and tough in Geneva. Felt like it could have gone either way. It went his way,” Ruud said on the matchup. “Yeah, I’m going to hope that the altitude being less here and sea level here it’s gonna help slow the ball down a little bit. He’s playing great. He won three great matches. Going to prepare for a very tough match.”
Photo Credit: Getty