HIGHLIGHTS: Casper Ruud comes up short against Novak Djokovic in ATP Finals title match


Casper Ruud will finish this year at No. 3, with runner-up finishes at Roland Garros, the US Open and, most recently, at the ATP Finals. And he can go higher still, according to Toni Nadal.

The 23-year-old from Norway also won three titles on the ATP Tour during his breakthrough season. He trains at the Rafa Nadal academy, which Toni Nadal is involved in running. Toni Nadal top also coached his nephew Rafael for most of his career and now works with Felix Auger-Aliassime, and both played Ruud at the season-ending championship.

He's in a good position to assess Ruud's improvement as a player, and says the backhand has been his biggest area of development.

“Casper Ruud, I remember when he came to the academy, he had a bad backhand because in my opinion he made bad movement with his legs. Now his backhand is enough good,” Toni Nadal told Eurosport. “Every year, he has improved a little. I remember, when he came to the academy, never thought that he could be No. 2 in the world.

“Now, I have seen many of his matches and he is a very good tennis player. He can be No. 1.”

Casper Ruud was a breakout star in 2022, with room to grow.

Casper Ruud was a breakout star in 2022, with room to grow.

The baseliner with heavy groundstrokes is coached by his father, Christian, who was previously the most successful player from Norway on tour.

"Casper has this capacity," said Toni Nadal. "Normally, he makes things very easy, very simple, and not complicate. Go, boom, and every time calm, he hits very well."

Ruud has been as high as No. 2 in the rankings.