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“There won’t be a Rafa in the final this year. I think those two spots are up for grabs for anyone” – Ruud

The Norwegian picked Alcaraz and Djokovic as the favourites but added that any of the top 8 seeds could win for the title

Casper Ruud at the 2023 Rome Masters Casper Ruud at the 2023 Rome Masters Image Credit: Imago / Panoramic

Casper Ruud, the reigning Roland-Garros runner-up, has said that given 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s absence, the men’s draw is fairly open although he picked world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz and 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic as the bigger favourites.

Ruud, who grew up idolizing Nadal and also trains at the Spaniard’s Academy, said he was sad to hear about the withdrawal but added that it does open up the draw for other players.

“It’s a little sad, honestly. To me, my earliest memory watching tennis is him winning his first Roland Garros. From there on, I was like six years old and I said to myself, I always want to play tennis on TV one day. That’s sort of where my dream to become a professional player started,” Ruud told the media in Paris on Saturday. “It’s a little strange, but the tournament still goes on. No one is sort of bigger than the sport. It’s going to be exciting. I think obviously we know that there won’t be a Rafa in the final this year, and I think those two spots are up for grabs for anyone. It’s anyone’s game. I think we are all kind of motivated, especially the young guys. I think we have all shown that anyone has the potential to go far these days, and we’re just hoping that these two weeks will be ours in a way. I think everyone thinks that way.”

“If I play well, can have a chance to go far in the tournament” – Ruud

Analyzing the men’s side, Ruud picked Alcaraz and Djokovic, who are both drawn in the same half, as the bigger favourites.

“It’s open. I think obviously you have Novak and Alcaraz on the top side of the draw who are biggest names and maybe the biggest favorites to reach the semis,” Ruud said. “Alcaraz is, to me, the biggest favorite because he has won a Slam before last year. Then him or Novak has to be sort of the ultimate favorite because Novak has won so many times. This year’s clay season has been maybe not what he expected, but I’m sure he has good confidence in myself knowing that he’s won 22 slams already,”

The Norwegian, who also reached the final of the US Open last year, further said that any of the other top 8 seeds will challenge for the title.

“I think also Stefanos Tsitsipas is there. Let’s not forget about him. He’s been in the final here before. There are many I feel like every week or every tournament these days, especially on ATP Tour, it’s always like some guy who comes a little bit out of nowhere makes quarters and semis, and that’s very tough to say who it is. On the bottom side of the draw, obviously Daniil Medvedev is second seeded. He’s been playing great this year, honestly, showing he can play well on both hard court and clay. He won Rome. Obviously, Holger Rune is a big threat. He plays very fearless. Seems like he’s in a good mode and playing good lately. He’s one to look out for. But obviously like to think that myself, if I play well, can have a chance to go far in the tournament. And obviously also Jannik Siner is on the bottom side also. Every time I see Jannik play it’s beautiful tennis, beautiful winners, and he’s dangerous on all surfaces as well. He’s been in the quarters here as well and pushed Rafa quite hard I remember one year,” Ruud said.

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