Casper Ruud compares what it is like facing Rafael Nadal on clay to playing Novak Djokovic on hard courts.
Ruud says playing Nadal on clay feels as if he is playing the 36-year-old “in his backyard” and that he felt “clueless” when trying to find a tactic to overcome the 22-time Grand Slam champion back in June.
“Rafa on clay has been the one that really, I felt clueless what to do and chanceless as well,” Ruud told a pre-tournament press conference at Indian Wells.
“It was really a one-way show, we played at Roland-Garros last year, and particularly best-of-five sets is really difficult.”
Ruud has lost all four of his meetings against Djokovic on the ATP Tour.
Nevertheless, Ruud further emphasised how tricky it is to play Nadal on clay.
“Not taking anything away from Novak because whenever it is important on a hard court, he steps up,” Ruud continued. “He’ll break you or play some unreal rally.
“But just the general feeling every point being thrown at you with an incredible amount of top spin and how Rafa just locks you in one corner…
“You feel like you’re on his home ground and in his backyard. For me, they are some of the most difficult opponents I’ve ever played.”
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Ruud begins his Indian Wells campaign against Diego Schwartzman on Saturday. He says he can understand why the Masters tournament in California is often referred to as the fifth Grand Slam of tennis.
“It is a little bit different because the stadium is so big,” he said, referring to the 16,000-seater Stadium 1 show court.
“It sort of seems like you’re playing a Grand Slam when you’re out on the centre court.
“The facilities are incredible and the fans also make it really special. I understand why it is referred to as the fifth major.”
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