April 18, 2024

Casper Ruud has said Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are “getting closer to the end” as he proclaimed that the legendary duo will be “so missed.”


The world No 6 also expressed his excitement at Nadal’s return to action at the Barcelona Open and admitted he does not mind sounding like a “fanboy” for the tennis great.


Nadal made his long-awaited comeback from injury at the ATP 500 tournament in Barcelona on Tuesday, where he crushed Flavio Cobolli 6-2, 6-3 in the opening round.


The 12-time Barcelona Open winner was then beaten 7-5, 6-1 by world No 11 Alex de Minaur in the second round on Wednesday.


Nadal, who had not competed since January, was playing just his second tournament since the 2023 Australian Open. The Spaniard, who will turn 38 in June, has revealed 2024 will likely be his final season in tennis, although he has not entirely ruled out playing for longer.


Djokovic, meanwhile, will turn 37 next month, but the world No 1 does not yet look near to the end of his career – having had an amazing season in 2023.


In an interview with the ATP ahead of his appearance at the Barcelona Open, Ruud gave his thoughts on Nadal’s return and the influence of the Big Three.


“Yes, really really exciting. You know, I might sound like I’m like a fanboy but that’s okay. I mean his absence from the tour is… you notice it, and it’s always fun when he shows up,” declared the Norwegian.



“You know, him, Roger [Federer], Novak, they have a huge influence on the tour and whenever they’re absent, it’s different.


“Obviously, it is an opportunity for every other player, but now, at this point of their careers with Rafa, Roger has already retired, but it’s getting closer to the end for them as well unfortunately and they will be so missed.”


Ruud will take on Jordan Thompson in the third round in Barcelona after he saw off Alexandre Muller 6-3, 6-4 in his opening match on Tuesday.


The 25-year-old was a runner-up at last week’s Monte Carlo Masters, where he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas after beating Djokovic in the semi-finals to earn his first win against the Serbian.


Ruud is a three-time Grand Slam finalist and he lost to Nadal and Djokovic in the final of the French Open in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

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