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January 2, 2020

Viktor Durasovic

Lukas Hellum Lilleengen

Herman Hoeyeraal

Leyton Rivera

Casper Ruud

Christian Ruud

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

THE MODERATOR: Let's start by introducing the players, please.

CHRISTIAN RUUD: Hello, my name is Christian Ruud. I'm the captain for the Norwegian team. These are my players. This is Casper. He's also my son, Casper Ruud. He's the No. 1 player. Viktor Durasovic, the No. 2 player. And then we have Lukas Lilleengen, No. 3. And we have Herman Hoeyeraal and Leyton Rivera. So that's the Norwegian team. And we have a young team. Viktor is 22, Casper 21, and these other guys are 18 and 19. So I guess we're maybe the youngest team here.


Q. Just what have the preparations been like so far, Casper?
CASPER RUUD: It's been good. We arrived on the 27th thinking that we needed some extra days to get used to the conditions and the long trip. So back home in Norway it's freezing and cold, so it's a bit different conditions than being home and it's, I think we were all very excited to be here and we were the last team in and I think we're all think that we were a bit lucky to be here with, like I said, last team in. Switzerland pulled out, so we got the chance to play here. So, I mean, the preparation's been good and we have been practicing well. Some tough first couple of days. But now it's a bit more easy and we're trying to get the body and the game ready for the matches from tomorrow on.

Q. So are you feeling confident heading into the weekend?
CASPER RUUD: Yeah, I think both me and Viktor have been playing well. I've been playing well still with Viktor and I think we are underdogs in all the matches, obviously, on paper and with the rankings, but I think anything can happen. It's the beginning of the year. Not everyone is in the great match form. We haven't played too many matches, any of us. So hopefully that can be a little advantage for us. But I think all the teams here are ready to play and compete again after some weeks and months off. So I think everyone is really eager to get going and I think, yeah, our whole team is also very eager to start the season again.

Q. Casper, first off, clash against John Isner. I think you played him at Wimbledon this year and lost. But going into this game's, he's an experienced campaigner, yes?
CASPER RUUD: Yes, he's been around for some years and he's probably going to stick around for a couple of more years. He has a great serve, and also a great player from the baseline. He can rip good forehands and play good rallies. So I had an encounter with him in the Wimbledon, of course, and a tough match, so it was a good experience for me, and it's fun to get a second chance to play against him. And I also played Opelka last year, who is also a similar player to him, who is very tall and with a big serve. So I think that these conditions are maybe a bit slower than the grass in Wimbledon, so maybe that can be a little bit of help for me. And I just think I have to try to make as many returns as possible back on his huge serve. So I feel ready and I'm feeling excited and it's a fun way to start the year against such a good player like John.

Q. Viktor, you reached your first Challenger to a final last year now. How is playing against the best players in the world going to inspire you for the future and more this year?
VIKTOR DURASOVIC: Yeah, for sure. It's for sure the biggest event I'm going to play so far. And I've had the chance in the past to play against, a few times against top-100 players and in my experience they're very similar to a lot of other guys I played on the Challenger Tour in terms of how they strike the ball and technique and all that. But it's definitely going to show me this week what it takes to really step it up to the next level and I'm confident that I'm in good shape and I can give close to my best tennis this week, at least I hope so. And I just, we just have to see where I'm at.

Q. Christian, what do you think about the innovations at this tournament? And how involved will you be to help Norway try and win some matches?
CHRISTIAN RUUD: We're going to be very involved, of course. And I think the innovations are good. I was with Casper at the Next Gen. It was a little bit similar with the video review and stuff like that, also the technology. So we just had a meeting with the strategy people and we're trying to figure out what their strength and weaknesses are and trying to use that to our advantage, if you can. But, yeah, like Casper said, we're ready to go. We have been here for quite some days and we are really excited to get going and get to play these bigger countries than Norway and hopefully we can make a mark here this week.

Q. As you mentioned it's one of the youngest teams here. What's the dynamic been like in the last couple of days preparing for such a big tournament, Casper?
CASPER RUUD: It's been good. I think four of us five, we played together in the Davis Cup as well last year. And we all train in a bit separate places, but we all get together when you're playing for your country. So it's a good group of guys and it's fun to be around the three younger ones. They are joking all the time and most of the times I don't even understand what they're talking about, but I laugh anyways because it sounds funny. But it's a great -- yeah, we have a great, what should I say, charisma in the group. And we're all excited to be here, like I said earlier, and it's fun. I hope also this can motivate them a little bit to be here among the best players in the world and that they are trying to learn from the great experience. Same goes for me and Viktor, of course, that we're always trying to learn and get better in our own careers. But it's fun to play as a team and it's, I think we all are proud to be here and represent Norway.

Q. Christian, for yourself, you're the highest ranked Norwegian now tennis player at, I think 39 was your highest ranking. With such a young team sitting up here, are you hopeful, I suppose, that that is going to be broken sooner rather than later?
CHRISTIAN RUUD: Yes, I hope so, of course. So the interest is quite good in Norway now at the moment because Casper's doing well and we are getting a lot of winter sports and now we're improving in tennis and golf and other sports, so I think the interest is there. And Casper's in a good way and Viktor is coming also, and we have these three other guys that are eager to develop their game. So hopefully my record will be broken and I'll be glad the day that someone breaks it.

Q. What would, let's say, if Casper did win a Grand Slam, what would that do for the sport in Norway?
CHRISTIAN RUUD: I think it would be huge, of course. We, I think Norway, like all other countries, they love their sports stars and, of course, we are successful in a lot of winter sports, which are not representing so many countries. So if Norway can get, like, some really good athletes in the big sports, I think it will be a lot of interest, of course. And yeah, a very small country, five million people, but Switzerland is also small and there are other small countries that have made big tennis stars, so we're hoping that we can put the mark on the tennis sport in Norway, of course.

Q. Lukas, Herman, and Leyton, what do you think individually you're each going to take out of playing this week and potentially being involved with Casper, Christian, and Viktor, etcetera that you can sort of take forward this year into your tournaments that you play? Just start maybe left to right.
LUKAS HELLUM LILLEENGEN: No, for sure we'll be learning a lot this week, and I'm very proud of being a part of this team with Casper, Christian and Viktor. And, yeah, it's about learning and practicing a lot and seeing the big guys playing as well. So, yeah.

HERMAN HOEYERAAL: I'm very happy to be here. It's very fun to see all the pro players behind the scenes, how they practice, how they structure their fitness and everything and the warmups. And I'm learning a lot, so it's very fun, yeah.

LEYTON RIVERA: It's a great experience for all of us to see how the good players train and get to train with them as well and it's just a great experience.

Q. Just in general, what sort of fun things have you been up to sort of since you've been here off the court? Or if you've all been on the practice court --
CHRISTIAN RUUD: No, we went to the zoo one day, and we are planning on going to Rottnest Island, but it was full on the ferry, actually. And Casper went to this other park yesterday to meet the koalas and kangaroos. And, yeah, so we're trying to do a little bit and we'll see what we have time for on the days off. But we were eager to get a lot of training in and get used to the courts and everything, so we have been training a lot also. So we'll see what we can do the next couple of days in between the matches.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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