It was all going so well for Casper Ruud, Norway’s best tennis player who was making great progress in a Grand Slam tournament. Severe pain from a stretched stomach muscle, however, forced Ruud to withdraw from the Australian Open.
Ruud, Norway’s 22-year-old tennis star from Snarøya just outside Oslo, had made it to the fourth round of the major tournament in Melbourne. That’s longer than he’s ever advanced before, and it grabbed headlines and made prime-time newscasts back home.
After his latest victory in the third round, he faced off against Andrej Rubljov from Russia on Monday. “I was struggling with a stomach muscle on Sunday and clearly today,” Ruud told Norwegian news bureau NTB after he had to bow out in pain. “It was causing trouble for me on the serve, and just hurt too much. Everyone probably saw that.”
One of Ruud’s coaches told state broadcaster NRK that Ruud had pulled his abdominis obliqus, and began to feel it during the match against Tommy Paul (his American opponent in the second round). “So we knew he’d be feeling it in this match,” Marcel da Cruz told NRK.
Ruud’s coach and father Christian Ruud, who also made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open in 1997, also said that serving “was the worst.” He said they’d trained without serves on Sunday “and we tried to spare him, gave him some Ibux (Ibuprofen) and taped his stomach, but it was painful for Casper today.” He added that it also would have been difficult “against such a good player as Rubljov,” who could then claim the victory.
The younger Ruud “is disappointed, of course. He’s playing his biggest match and knows he’s not at 100 percent. I understand that he’s disappoiinted and frustrated over what happened.”
Now both Ruuds just hope the muscle will heal and that it won’t take too much time. “Fortunately there’s nothing major happening the next few weeks, so it’s no crisis.” He’d planned to play in another tournament in Singapore on his way home to Norway, but that will likely have to be cancelled.