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How Can Casper Ruud Make Inroads Against Djokovic and Nadal? Andy Roddick's Take

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday, November 21, 2022

After watching Casper Ruud fall short against Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s title match at the ATP Finals, former World No.1 Andy Roddick had some thoughts on what could make Ruud a more dangerous player against the cream of the crop.

Tennis Express

Given that Ruud, who finishes the season at No.3 for his best year-end career-high ranking, owns a 0-9 lifetime record against the Top-3.

Ruud, who still has yet to win a title above the 250-level, will have to find ways to earn wins against the Djokovic’s and Nadal’s of the world, at least in the near-term, because it doesn’t look like either player is willing to give up any ground (they won three of the four major titles on offer in 2022, and that was with Djokovic missing two of the four).

Roddick says that the Norwegian should change up his playbook in order to have a better chance to make an impact against Nadal and Djokovic.

“If we're nitpicking he's been exposed a little bit because it's weird because when you get to a certain level your strengths almost become your weaknesses and I'll explain what I mean,” Roddick said on Tennis Channel. “Him going way back on second serve returns against 98 percent of [the ATP] is a great play and it's one that puts him in the right position to win matches and to dominate that side of the court. But against someone like a Rafa, Rafa likes it when guys go back, it gives him a little bit more time. Against someone like Novak, going back doesn't do much because he's so good at firming up that first ball.

“So if he can try to thread the needle between working on maybe getting up on some second serve returns, just for situational matchups, that's what it's gonna take. He's gonna have to find a way to kind of play outside of his comfort zone and play well.”

Roddick was quick to point out just how much improvement Ruud has made, particularly with his backhand wing, which was once a liability but is now very solid and hard to pick apart. He also commended Ruud’s obvious improvements in terms of consistency and on hard courts, where he has far and away exceeded expectations.

“As far as improvement inside of his comfort zone, the guy's been a 10 out of 10 this year,” he said. “Unbelievable progress, especially on surfaces that shouldn't naturally make a lot of sense to him with what he does well.”

Roddick says that Ruud is hitting the ball with more “freedom” off the backhand wing.

“The swing path feels a lot freer,” he said. “From start to finish, it doesn't feel like there's any kind of wasted motion on that side now.”

And he echoed the sentiments of Ruud himself, who told reporters that he felt he “overachieved” in his own mind.

“Props to props to Casper Ruud onward and upward – improvement more than I would have guessed I would have seen from him two years ago, especially on the faster surfaces, well done,” Roddick concluded.