The transition from clay to grass can be tough for even the most all-around players, but Casper Ruud hopes to make a better impression on his least familiar surface in 2022—despite earlier comments to the contrary.

Among the few Top 10 players neither injured nor facing the wrath of Wimbledon’s Russian-Belarusian ban, the Roland Garros runner-up will enjoy his first big chance to make a deep run at SW19. But back during the Miami Open, the avid golfer joked that the surface was hardly suitable for tennis.

“I think grass is for golf players,” Ruud said after reaching his first Masters 1000 final. “My preparation for Wimbledon is pretty much just playing golf, you know, before the tournament, because I feel more comfortable on the golf course than the tennis courts on grass for now. But let's see if it can change.”

The comment was reminiscent of a bygone era when clay-court specialists eschewed the grass season entirely. Most vocal at the time was former ATP No. 1 Marcelo Rios, who once declared, “grass is for cows.”

Ruud’s quote lit up social media in the wake of his runner-up finish at Roland Garros, leading the 23-year-old to address the matter on Twitter.


“Don’t take this quote too seriously,” he wrote to Oleg, a stalwart of Tennis Twitter™. “It was a silly joke during one of my press conferences in Miami. Grass is a fun challenge and right now I’m honestly quite tired of running and grinding 5 meters behind the baseline on clay!”

After making his mark on clay throughout the spring and summer of 2021—winning four titles and reaching back-to-back Masters semifinals in Monte Carlo and Madrid—Ruud indeed proved he could compete on quicker surfaces when he won his first hard-court title in San Diego and qualified for the ATP Finals in Turin, making the semifinals with a win over nemesis Andrey Rublev.

He very nearly turned the dial too far towards hard courts in 2022, reaching the Miami final but enduring early defeats to begin his clay-court campaign. The Norwegian ultimately turned it around in style: winning 12 of his final 14 clay matches, making a first a Rome semifinal, defending his Geneva title, and rolling into his first major final, where he fell to 14-time champion Rafael Nadal.

Grass remains Ruud’s final frontier, posting a career 2-4 record since making his pro debut on the surface in 2019. While he reached the quarterfinals in Mallorca last spring, he endured a five-set defeat in the first round of Wimbledon to Jordan Thompson. While his heavy topspin forehand works wonders on slower courts, his larger takeback can make timing an issue, particularly when the ball skids.

Unsurprisingly, his full response from Miami gives greater context to his struggles on the slicker surface, and affirms his aim to improve:

“I obviously see that with all the tradition and it's really fun to be there, but I just haven't felt comfortable,” he explained. “I think it's the ball that makes it a little bit tough for me, because I just haven't been able to feel it well in my strings yet.

“So that's a little bit of an issue for me so far, but I will keep trying and play maybe a couple of other grass court events this year to try to be ready for Wimbledon. The plan is to play Queen's this year and see if I can get into the London grass court spirit.”

Ruud will begin his quest to have the last laugh as the top seed in Queen’s Club.