Casper Ruud says he’s ready to take on a “tough group” when he plays on home soil in UTS Oslo this weekend.
Rud – “The Ice Man” – is joined by Holger Rune, “The Viking”, Alexander Bublik, “The Bublik Enemy” and Dominic Thiem, “Thieminho” in Group A for the event, which begins on Friday.
“It’s a tough group, for sure,” Ruud said. “I’ve never played any of them in UTS, so that’s going to be a new one. I played Benoit (Paire) quite a few times, but luckily, we’re not in the same group this time.
“It’s a different group, but Domi, a Grand Slam champion, Bublik, you never know with him, he’s been playing well now. He won the tournament last week. And Holger as well had an amazing year last year. So it’s going to be a tough group.
“I hope I can, of course, move on and try to use my experience in the UTS to my advantage. I hope to move it and be in the semi final on Sunday. I’m playing at home, so I’m gonna do my best to try to win for the home crowd.”
Head to head leads over Rune and Bublik
Ruud leads Rune 5-1 in their head to head battles but said he expects a tough match against the Dane.
“I played him many times when he was really young,” Ruud explained. “Last year we played each other twice, he won one and I won one, we had tough battles. It’s going to be really fun, Battle of the North!
“If you look at the ranking, I’m going to be the underdog, but if you look at the head to head, maybe he’s the underdog.”
Ruud leads Bublik 6-1 but the Kazakh’s only win over Ruud is one that still sticks in the Norwegian’s mind.
“He beat me here at home in a Davis Cup a few years ago,” he said. “The only time I lost to him was here at home. I hope it doesn’t happen again, I’m going to try to get my revenge. He’s playing well, so I’m going to have to try something really good to come out on top. It’s always tough matches against him, even if I am 6-1.”
Ruud chasing revenge over Thiem
The only player Ruud has a losing record against in his group is Thiem, who won their only previous battle at Roland-Garros, just a few weeks after the US Open, with Paris moved because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I remember it, it was Roland-Garros in 2020,” he said. “He won the US Open that year. He had a few weeks off and I played him in Roland-Garros, he was just too strong, too good for me.
“A lot has happened in the last four years in my game so hopefully I can give him better competition this time.”
UTS Oslo will be played on February 9 and 10.