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February 13, 2021

Casper Ruud

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

C. RUUD/R. Albot

6-1, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you talk us through your match and how you were feeling on the court today.

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, no, I think it was a good match. I started off great, broke him right away and I won the first set 6-1 and then I think I just played very solid and heavy with my game, and then in the second set he kind of answered the questions I gave him with my game.

He counter-punched good and played his style of play better and kind of neutralized my game a little bit. In the end he got the break at 6-5 and then third and fourth set I felt strong.

I was able to use the wind well today when I had the wind from the back. I was playing heavy and trying to use that as much as possible. Then playing into the wind you try to play a little bit more flat and through the wind more. So I think I was able to do that well, and at the end of the match it was a tough game but I was able to hold, which was a very good feeling.

Q. It seems like it's a bit of a hurdle or a barrier to get to the round of 16; a lot of people need a few chances in the third round before they can do that. Do you understand the people who say that, like what they mean by that? Is it because of the quality of the competition you're facing in the third round, or is there something inside, that desire to get into the round of 16 that you can be your own worst enemy?

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, well, I think it's a little bit of both. I remember the first time I made the third round was back in 2019, and I played Federer. That's a tough third-round opponent, the greatest of them all. So then you kind of think more about just experience being in the third round than maybe thinking about actually winning the match.

Then my two other third-round appearances I lost to Berrettini at the US Open, he's a semifinalist there, so he knows what he's doing over there in New York and generally all over, and in October last year I played Thiem at the French Open. So I think I had some tough draws at the third round, but also I think this was really my chance to book my spot in the second week for the first time.

Albot, he played great all week and he beat Bautista, and so Bautista was the seed that I was going to face on paper, out from the seeding. So he beat him in the first round and he played well. He really stepped up this Grand Slam, I think, and it was -- like I said earlier, it was a really tough match today, but I really also felt this was a good chance for me to break through a little bit and book my spot in the second week. So I think it's a mix of both, but I'm happy to have broken the barrier.

Q. You have a dad who is one of the few people on earth who can understand what it takes to do that. Did he give you any advice specifically toward like how you can get through this match?

CASPER RUUD: I think we just talk about each match as it comes. It's not like he has been prepping me the whole week; this is your chance, this is your chance, this is your time, like this. But every match is important, even the first round. Even though Thompson was injured, I think it was a tough draw. Thompson is a very good player, especially here in Australia playing at his home Grand Slam. He's definitely a tough opponent. So I could easily have gone out on Tuesday already.

Tommy Paul, also, two, three days ago is a tough draw. He's very good hard court player, very athletic and good player. So even though like on paper I've been the favorite in all matches, I think I've had actually quite a tough draw. Some would say that maybe Albot is -- wouldn't be the necessarily the toughest third round, and I can agree on paper, but he's beaten Bautista and played great, so it was a tough match, and yeah, like I said, I'm very happy to be through to the second week.

Q. This is obviously a big moment in your career, your first fourth round at a major. You looked very relieved on court once it was over.

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, definitely. I really wanted this win, and I think it would be tough being broken at 5-4 in the fourth, having a match point at 5-3, and it was tough out there today because there was a little bit of wind and it was going one direction mostly all the time. So whenever you were further away from the camera you had the wind from your back, which is also always easier to than to have it coming into your face or into you. So I think I was able to play very well from the having the wind in my back, playing heavy with top spin, which I like.

But Albot, he stepped up, especially in the second set and kind of neutralized my heavy spin balls with good depth and playing fast and chasing down, running down many, many balls. So the third and fourth set I was just very happy to get one break and was able to hold the serve all throughout. So, yeah, I'm sure you could tell I was very relieved and happy to get this win.

Q. The first since your father in 1997 to make the fourth round. What did he have to say about it?

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, he was happy. He's my main coach, so it's also an achievement for him. Now he has done it himself and as a coach, so I think he's happy that I've been able to not beat his record yet, but at least do same as he did. That was kind of the last inch he kind of had on me when it comes to Norwegian records in tennis. I've kind of beaten him on everything else, the ranking and last year when I got my first title. He lost the finals a couple times, so now he was happy, and I'm not going to say we joked about it, but he kind of liked having that last inch on me and now he can't anymore, so it's a good feeling, obviously.

Q. Did you know he lost to Goran in five sets?

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, I know, and I know that he was up 40-Love on Goran's serve at 3-all in the fifth to make quarters. So it's one of his best results but toughest losses of his career he's told me, so I've heard that story a couple times. But I hope that won't be the case for me on Monday. I'll have a very tough opponent and it looks like it will be Rublev, so he's been one of the best players on tour the last seven eight months or nine months, so I'm up for a big test on Monday.

Q. What will the reception be like back in Norway? Now it's cold dark winter there; this is quite different for them to have a tennis player doing well on this side of the world?

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, that's true. Hopefully it can bring some light back to Norway, because it's, I know it's very dark and cold back there now. The sun goes up at nine and goes down at three, so it's only like six hours of daylight, which I'm happy to be away from, but I look also forward to coming home and hopefully there will be some kids that can get inspired by the results and pick up a racquet or continue working hard as I know there are young kids on the working hard these days back home in Norway, so hopefully they see that it's possible for a Norwegian to do well and then, yeah, like I said, hopefully that can give some motivation, inspiration for the young ones back home.

Q. From having such really good success on clay earlier in your career, what adjustments have you made to translate that success on to hard courts?

CASPER RUUD: I don't think I've done too many adjustments. I just think that I've become more comfortable on the hard court. For a guy who plays maybe better on clay it's not impossible to do well on hard courts either. Rafa has five slams on hard court and two on grass. And Thiem has his one and only on hard court and they are kind of the clay kings of the tour.

So I think it just proves that playing heavy with good top spin suits the clay better, obviously, but it's not impossible to do well on hard court and I think I proved that today. Like I've been saying couple times now, that when I had the -- I guess is it tailwind you call it when you have it from your back? Yeah. When I had the tailwind on court I was trying to use it and play heavy with good length and spin, which helped or which was working good today, and when you're having the headwind you try to break through the wind a little bit more with flatter shots. I think if you look at the stats I'm sure I played it with a little bit more spin than Albot, especially with the tailwind and I think that was the key to breaking his serve a couple times in the third and fourth set and keeping the break all the way.

So, yeah, I haven't done too many adjustments, just practicing more on hard court. I've been playing hard courts now since French Open last year, so it's been many months of hard courts training and I'm very glad that it paid off.

Q. This is your third major tournament as a seed; was there any mental adjustments to kind of get used to being at that echelon and having those extra expectations on you?

CASPER RUUD: Yeah, I think I've just tried to use that to take advantage of it, not to face one of the big, really big stars in the early rounds. Now I've reached the third round, this was like my third round appearance in a row and now I made it one step further, so I've been able to hold my seeding and this time I've reached another step. So I think I am enjoying the seeding at the Grand Slams and I've been able to keep my seedings, like I said, so far and, yeah, it's a good advantage to have seeding in the slams, like I said, not to face one of these big stars in the early rounds. It's never happened to me, to be honest, to face either Djokovic or Rafa or these guys in the first rounds, but it can happen if you're not seeded, so I'm just, yeah, getting used to it and hope I can be seeded more times in my career.

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