OSLO, Norway—People-watching: it’s one of life’s addicting activities that doesn’t cost a dime to pass the time. It can be especially useful when the forecast isn’t great, or when finding yourself in an unfamiliar city.
Looking outside my hotel room in Oslo, snowflakes signal winter is already here. Icy sidewalks have a mushy consistency, though foot traffic hasn’t thawed. Bundled-up locals enter and exit train stations. By the waterfront, runners come and go, and the cafes in sight aren’t short on caffeine-seeking customers. Roads are filled with streams of cars that start and stop for stoplights evoking familiar colors of the holiday season. Like time on a rustic clocktower, this city and its people are unassumingly moving forward—business as usual.
One resident has taken this approach to the global stage—and in doing so has usurped his father as Norway’s most prolific tennis player at the ripe age of 22. Casper Ruud enjoyed his share of shining moments in a pandemic-interrupted 2020 that included his first ATP title, but his progression a year later has seen Oslo’s tennis son glide into the upper echelon at encouraging speed.
Ruud’s historic rise to the Top 10 in 2021 did not come on the back of one flashy tournament run, but rather unremitting weekly gains that produced a substantial season. In May, he told me about the importance of “protecting his chances” ahead of his title run in Geneva. Dig a little bit beyond his five titles and 57 match wins and you’ll find Ruud protected his opportunities like Andrei Vasilevskiy, goalie of his family’s favorite NHL team, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.