Casper Ruud enjoyed a breakout season in 2022, climbing as high as No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and reaching his first two Grand Slam finals at Roland Garros and the US Open. By his side throughout his journey has been his father and coach, Christian Ruud.
With the first five episodes of Netflx’s Break Point set for release on 13 January, ATPTour.com spoke to Christian about the experience of working with the Netflix crews, Casper’s rise, and trash-talking on the golf course.
Do you remember when the idea of Netflix cameras following Casper came up? What was it like to know your son would be featured?
We didn’t think that much. We all saw Formula 1: Drive To Survive, so we kind of [pictured] it was going to be something similar and I think everyone that watched Drive To Survive knew it was a success and it was fun to watch.
On the other hand, I think it was difficult to do the same in tennis. It’s tough to get so close after maybe a tough loss and everything, so I think everyone was kind of curious how it would be. I think we’ve been part of it and we have enjoyed it. I think maybe we were one of the players who didn’t have them too close, so I think Casper is more comfortable with the way he’s been doing it and being a little bit private on top of being on the show, showing of course preparation for matches and maybe during the matches and so on.
So I think for Casper and for me we need to take it slow and see how it goes. Maybe in the future we can open up more and even show more behind the scenes around Team Ruud. But for now, I think we are happy with what we did and we look forward to seeing the show.
For people who aren’t tennis fans who watch, what do you think they’ll take away from meeting Casper?
They will see he is a nice guy, I think. And of course I think for me, the coach, the most important thing is to win tennis matches, so that’s why I’m maybe not scared, but [apprehensive] to let them too much into our private zone. I think we did well with them around us and maybe we can open up more in the future. I think they will see that Casper is a nice guy, he’s a serious guy. He does his job, he trains hard, he prepares well and that’s maybe why he has success also.
You’re his coach, but you’re his dad. How proud are you of how he’s handled being pretty close to the top of the world, being a multiple-time Grand Slam finalist and everything as a person?
I’m very proud. And also very proud of him winning the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. It shows character and that’s kind of the guy Casper is. He’s a fair player and a genuinely nice guy. Even though he’s a fierce competitor inside, I think he can also be a really [nice] guy on the court.
When he was a kid, do you remember when you first saw that competitive instinct in him?
Since he was young he always wanted to play with the ball and compete. In soccer, ice hockey, tennis, he wanted to win. You can see every practice, every tournament he played in tennis, in football, he wanted to win. I think probably 80 per cent of the kids start to cry when they don’t win, so he was also first in that category.
But when I really started to believe in him was when he played the European Championships Under 14 and he was not considered one of the favorites. He was not even seeded, I don’t think, and he went to the final, beating the taller guys. He was not really tall and big at that age. Then I figured out, ‘Okay, this guy has something that we can try to work on’. That’s kind of when we decided to maybe go a little bit more full and try to become a pro.
Obviously you’re focussed on helping him as a player, but I remember during the US Open final you were there after with your phone documenting everything. How fun is it that you’re not just his coach, but you do get to enjoy your son doing all this?
I think the US Open was special because at the French Open everything went fast. Suddenly you’re in the final and you’re preparing, sitting there being nervous in the final, and it didn’t go the way you were hoping.
I kind of decided to try to enjoy the moment more in the US Open final. The atmosphere was a little bit different, especially in the ceremony I wanted to have some pictures and try to enjoy it and have a memory I can bring with me for the future.
What is a golf round like with you and Casper?
Normally we have one of Casper’s friends, who is like our hitting partner. We train a lot with him in Norway and we are all at the same level [in golf]. When we play together it’s like a mental battle. It’s trash-talking. But with Casper and me, we are quite nice to each other because it’s tough to be that competitive with your son. But when we have our friend, it’s very competitive and we trash talk and try to psyche each other out a little bit.
That’s one of the most fun things we do during the year when we have time to play two, three days of golf and we have competition over three or four rounds. That’s something I really enjoy and I think Casper also enjoys it.
We’re quite good. We’re at least competitive and we’re not bad, but we’re not great. [My handicap] is four and Casper and his friend are two, so they’re a little bit better than me, but I trash talk so much that they get nervous! Sometimes I have a chance to beat them, so that’s fun.
Are you excited to see the Netflix show not just for Casper, but tennis being on Netflix?
Of course. I think it will show a little bit behind the scenes, which is interesting for people who are [in] tennis and maybe people who are not such big tennis fans also, to see what’s happening during a day.
For us who live it every day, it’s no big secret, so we kind of don’t understand what is so interesting about it. But for the people who are not behind the scenes, I guess it can be fun to see how things go on. I think it’s going to be interesting [to see] the other players, how close they have the cameras and everything.