In a father’s footsteps … and beyond
Casper Ruud dethrones his dad to become first-ever Norwegian to win an ATP title
Jo Christian Weldingh
Casper Ruud, 21, wrote Norwegian tennis history in February, when he became the first-ever Norwegian to win an ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) title after beating Pedro Sousa of Portugal 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Argentina Open, Feb. 16, in Buenos Aires.
The match took only one hour and 11 minutes. The trophy was presented to him by Argentine women’s tennis legend Gabriela Sabatini. With the victory, Ruud also ascended to a respectable 34th place on the official ATP rankings, beating the Norwegian record held by his father and coach, Christian Ruud.
Heading into the tournament, Ruud was ranked 45th in the world; his father peaked at No. 39.
“Now I’ve beaten his ranking and won an ATP Tour title, something he wasn’t able to do… I beat him in two different ways now, so I think now I don’t need to hear the question anymore, ‘will I beat my father?’ Now I’ve done it, so I must try to think even better and that I can reach even further,” Casper Ruud told atptour.com, when they asked him how his victory in Argentina and following climb in the rankings would affect the ongoing father-son rivalry.
Ruud is Norway’s first male tennis player on a Grand Slam level since his father retired in the late ’90s.
The tournament in Buenos Aires was an unconditional success for Ruud. He impressed the tennis world when he obliterated Roberto Carballes Baena in the round of 16, beating the Spanish player 6-1, 6-0, before breezing past Serbian Dusan Lajovic (ranked No. 23 in the world) in the quarterfinal. In the semifinal, arguably Ruud’s toughest game in the tournament, he beat Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero after turning the match around in the second set.
In his traditional victory speech, Ruud started with thanking his opponent, Pedro Sousa, in the final, praising his performance and telling him that he hoped to see him around for many years. He continued thanking his own team, the tournament and the sponsors. He then went on to thank the audience for showing up every day, despite the extreme heat. He stressed the importance of drinking enough water—fitting, since a spectator collapsed due to dehydration during his semifinal and had to be transported to the hospital. To applause from the Argentinian crowd, Ruud finished his speech in Spanish, thanking the audience for their support and promised they would see him again next year.
“This is the biggest thing to ever happen to Norwegian tennis,” Eurosport’s expert Christer Francke said on live television after the match.
This was Ruud’s second final after going pro in 2015. His last one was in the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston last April where he lost against Christian Garin from Chile.
Ruud is the youngest-ever winner of the Argentina Open, a tournament categorized as an ATP 250 tournament, the lowest tier of annual men’s tennis tournaments on the main ATP Tour, after the four Grand Slam tournaments, ATP Finals, ATP Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, and ATP 500 tournaments.
This article originally appeared in the March 6, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.