Roland Garros

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Paris, France

Casper Ruud

Press Conference

R. NADAL/C. Ruud

6-3, 6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Bad luck, Casper, but congrats on a great two weeks. This is the first time you have played against Rafa. Can you say that he's the toughest challenge in tennis to play against him on Philippe Chatrier?

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, I think so. I said before the match that I guess it is, but now I think I know it is. So at least what I have faced, it's really challenging and really tough. But I already knew it sort of in a way.

Yeah, his numbers speak for themselves. He has never lost a final here, and there is a reason why. I guess like I said in the speech, I'm just another one of the victims that he has destroyed on this court in the final (smiling).

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Commiserations. You have played a lot with Rafa at his academy. Could you compare what it is like playing with him in that situation to what you faced today? What are the differences?

CASPER RUUD: It is tough to describe. I mean, he plays the same style in practice and matches. He takes the practices very seriously, and so do I. If we practice and play sets I think we both want to try to win, of course, and have a good practice.

But the circumstances were a bit different today. It was the first time I have experienced to be in this situation and play a Grand Slam final. I don't think it really got to me until I stepped on court today and saw the full stadium and felt like the atmosphere in the crowd.

It was a little bit, honestly, a bit tough to find myself too comfortable in the situation in the beginning, but as the match went on, I tended to feel a little bit better and I could calm down and breathe out a little bit more.

But it was challenging because you are playing him, the most winning-slam player ever, and on this court in the final it's not too easy.

But it was worth a shot, and a good experience, for sure.

Q. Could you talk us through what happened exactly from your mindset and from playing style when you were break up and then he went on to win all these games.

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, well, I wish I knew the answers too, but I got a little bit cheap break of serve I think in the second set and was up 3-1, and of course wanted to get the match going and maybe try to win the set.

But then he stepped up and he showed that when he needs to he plays great. I think for him also when he was up two sets to Love it was easy for him to kind of feel a little bit looser and he was stepping more into the court, and with the forehand and backhand he was playing winners from both sides.

It was tough for me to really know where I should play the ball because from both sides he has -- many people have said that he kind of has two forehands because his backhand is also strong, even though it's maybe a little bit weaker. On the forehand he plays with a little bit of spin and kind of feels like you're playing a right-handed forehand.

I didn't know exactly where to play there in the end and he made me run around the court too much. When you are playing defensive against Rafa on clay, he will eat you alive.

I guess that's a little bit what happened, and I was not able to keep pushing him and making him run too much, so he was the one who were playing aggressive.

Q. Congratulations on your great run here at Roland Garros and entertaining everyone along the way. As a boy, you actually sat on Chatrier watching Rafa win a Grand Slam and then today you faced the toughest challenge in sport playing him. Where was the best place to be today, in the crowd on Chatrier or on the other side of the net against Rafa?

CASPER RUUD: Well, I enjoyed both days, but of course it was more fun to be there myself and play. Yeah, what can I say? This match will be something I will probably remember for the rest of my career. There are certain moments I think for everyone's career that you'll remember more than others, so this one will be high up on my list, biggest match I ever played.

Like I have said many times before, he's a player I have watched on TV for the last 16, 17 years. So to be there myself and face him, it's a bit of a challenge as well but a very enjoyable one.

Yeah, of course I wish I could make the match closer and all these things, but at the end of the day I can hopefully one day tell my grandkids that I played Rafa on Chatrier in the final, and they will probably say, Wow, did you? I will say Yes. I'm probably going to enjoy this moment for a long time.

Q. I want to ask two things. First, you just talked about remembering this day for the rest of your life. Is there a particular moment that you think will stand out the most before the match, during the match, after the match?

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, well, I think match points are always the most memorable one, and he finished the match in style with a winner down the line. And seeing the ball drop on the line, that's what I can remember the most for now.

And of course stepping into the court. Something that's a bit funny when he plays, when the announcer does the intro and he goes and of course tells all the times he has won the tournament, it never stops, it seems like. That takes like half a minute just to say all the years. I think that is something that is also something I will remember.

Was also special moment to be handed the trophy by Billie Jean King, she's a legend of the sport. It was nice to meet her. I never met her. So to do it there on the podium, or in the stands, it was a nice feeling, or a good experience.

Q. And the other thing I wanted to ask was Nadal has spoken about, and we saw, for example, in Rome the problem that he's been dealing with with his foot. Did it look to you or feel as though you were playing somebody who was dealing with a problem at all? Was there anything about his movement that seemed different?

CASPER RUUD: Not really, but, I mean, of course me going into the match, I have in the back of my mind that the guy is 36 years old, and that he's getting older, like everyone is doing, and that I would rather play him now than maybe when he was 22, you know. That's just part of the game.

You never know what can happen. I think that's what we saw against Shapo in Rome. He was playing really well in the beginning and then I guess there was some movement or a game or whatever where kind of something happened to his foot. So it seems like that injury is something that is a bit vulnerable for him.

But that he has been able to keep it well this week is not surprising to me at all. He has his doctor here, and he has everyone in his team making sure that he will be fit for this final.

I didn't expect him to have problems with the foot, but would maybe -- yeah, it was in the back of my mind that something can happen and that I should not give up no matter what because whatever the score is, it might be that something can occur to him. Same for in my case. Something can always happen when you're out there. We saw it with Sascha, how fast things can happen, and in unfortunate situations.

But he looked sharp, he looked fine, and moving well. It's impressive that he has been able to kind of forget about that foot and played very well here.

Q. Just wondering, I know this was your first Grand Slam final, but also, I think, the first time reaching the quarters and the semis of a slam. Just wondering, could you talk about going deep in a slam for the first time and maybe what you feel you have learnt about yourself over the last couple of weeks.

CASPER RUUD: Well, I think what I can say was that I was able to do well these two weeks was to kind of take care of the chances I got and see the opportunity.

Because when the draw was made, everyone was talking about upper side of the draw and how sort of open the second half could be comparing to like the big names who were on the top draw. Rafa, of course, Novak, Zverev, and Alcaraz were all placed in the top part.

In the other part there were no one who had won here obviously, I think. I kind of realized early this is a good chance to go maybe far if I'm playing well and that there can be chances for me. I was able to take care of those chances.

Like every best-of-five set match I didn't play my greatest tennis every single point of the tournament but I was able to win the most important ones and realizing that the best-of-five sets matches can be very long, can be sort of a marathon. And in the end I was the better player in the second half of the draw and took care of my chances.

So that's something that I think I will learn from, take with me from this experience, and realizing also that I have been able to keep my body well, not too many pains or injuries these two weeks and playing quite long matches. So that's also a good sign for me.

Sometimes in the Grand Slams I have felt like I have not been able to recover too well on the off days. So the days off I have been able to take care of them better and feeling fit all week.

Q. Wondering how difficult it is to adjust to -- I know you have trained with him before, but adjusting to his game in the middle of a slam final with everything else on top of that. Most players would probably do that in the first round of Barcelona, playing him for the first time?

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, it is difficult. Like we have seen for many years, I think he is the complete clay court player. He has the perfect game for clay and obviously other surfaces as well. But here it's incredible.

Plays with heaviness on the ball and topspin that is not the same as anyone else on the tour. And I have not actually practiced with Rafa since Toronto last year, so it has been quite some months. It was a bit challenging for me honestly today to get used to his topspin again. Today was, you know, sunny sometimes and the ball was quite bouncy. Took a little bit of time to get used to it, but I think I played fairly well in the first two sets.

In the third set it was not like I did unbelievably many mistakes, but he just raised his level and showed that he was going to go after the title and was of course difficult to come back from 2-0 down against him, and yeah, he showed why he has won this many times before.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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