World No. 22 Casper Ruud spoke extremely highly of world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas following their clash at the Madrid Masters. Ruud, the top-ranked Norwegian tennis player, overcame Tsitsipas 7-6 (4) 6-4 in the Madrid Masters round-of-16.
"Yeah, no, definitely. He is one of the best players this year on the tour, one of the ones who has won the more matches. He's won his first Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo. Barcelona he was very close to getting the title there, as well," Ruud said of Tsitsipas.
"But the conditions are a bit different here than other clay courts with the fast shots, the ball traveling faster through the air because of the altitude. You get a lot of free points with the serve that you don't usually do on the clay courts.
I think that also today went a bit in my advantage. I felt like he was doing some mistakes that he doesn't always do. I was just trying to take care of the chances that I got, like I said. "You just have to think that you're not playing against the best player of the world this year, and that you're playing just another opponent.
I think what helped me a bit today is we played each other in the juniors, we kind of grew up playing among each other. For me, he's someone that I've been playing with before, so I think that also helps a little bit when you're playing such a big and good player."
Ruud admits the Tsitsipas win was a confidence boost
"Yeah, I think so. Like I said earlier, it gives you a lot of confidence, gives you belief in yourself that you can compete with these guys, actually beat them. It's probably the best confidence booster you can give to yourself," Ruud said.
"Those guys in the top 10 is what all the other players are looking up to, trying to figure out how to get there themselves. When you beat the players within the top 10, it feels that you're closer to reaching that goal than maybe if you're losing to them or losing to a lower-ranked players, for instance.
"It's much based on confidence. Also, yeah, you know you need to be a complete player, you need to have as few weaknesses as possible. Whenever you play a top-10 player, they will probably be able to find out what your weakness is and attack it."