Incentive was high for Casper Ruud at this year’s Australian Open. If the Norwegian had lifted his maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne, he would have risen to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time.
However, the second seed will now have to wait for both after losing against American Jenson Brooksby in four sets in the second round on Thursday.
“It’s a tough matchup for me and I know it’s going to be for many years probably,” Ruud said when reflecting on his defeat. “I will try to learn from it. I think that he played great today. I mean, didn’t make many errors at all.
“I didn’t feel like I played particularly bad or not at the level that I wanted to play, but he just ended up winning many of the longer rallies and had an answer to all the questions that I asked him.”
It was the second ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair, with Ruud triumphing in straight sets in Rome last year. Brooksby’s funky game caused the World No. 3 far more problems during their encounter at the hard-court major, though, with the American dominating the longer rallies.
Ruud was full of praise for the 22-year-old.
“I think it’s fun to watch him because it looks very different for many players,” Ruud said. “I always sort of enjoy watching him when he plays. I don’t watch all his matches obviously, but if he’s on and I have a chance to watch, I think it’s interesting, because he makes tennis look a little different from any other players.
“But he plays really well. He plays flat, he defends great from both sides. It is a tough matchup for me, because I never really get any higher balls or balls where I feel like I can generate my heavy topspin shots that I like to play.”
After dropping the second set, Ruud received a medical timeout for an abdominal issue. However, the 24-year-old insisted it was not a major problem.
“It’s a little tension and some slight pain in my abdominal,” Ruud said. “It’s something that has actually been with me for around two years, the last two years since I got a strain here two years ago in the fourth round.
“It’s still sometimes a little bit of an issue that I hope this period that I will have now in front of me of four, five weeks of not too much serving and rebuilding my body a little bit will help with the problem, because it’s not the first time that this [has] happened.”