Casper Ruud says playing best-of-five tennis is like ‘tearing your body apart every match,’ but Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer show how it should be done.
Debate is raging right now in tennis, as it always seems to, about whether or not Grand Slams should be at least partially best-of-three for the men’s singles.
Ruud was unwilling to commit to a position on that, but while he says the physical challenges of best-of-five tennis are extreme, players need to learn from Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer on how it’s done.
“When you play a tough five setter or a tough four setter, its something else than playing a tough three-setter, even though you have a day off the day after usually at a Grand Slam,” Ruud told the Beyond the Baseline podcast.
“At the Australian Open this year, when I did the best, it was tough to get the body 100% ready for every match.
“You’re basically tearing your body apart for every match you play in a best out of five sets, you’re playing three sets at least every match.
“I think the big three know this and they are very sharp in the opening rounds, they very rarely give away any sets as they know it’s much more comfortable to win in straight sets.
“But obviously they are still able to play five sets if they have to. A little bit of experience on how they’ve done this in the past, they know how to recover well, they know what’s important and what’s not as important.
“You see how greedy Rafa is in the first round of a major because he’d rather save his energy for the semi’s or the final.”
Even Nadal showed he was vulnerable to the challenges of going five sets in Australian, though, with him losing from two sets up against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals.
“It surprised me how well Tistispas came back from two sets down against Rafa at the AO, its not often he loses when he’s up two zero,” Ruud admitted.
“Tsitispas really showed that he was there for it and he was physically and mentally strong enough. For me, I felt at least for now its much tougher to play five sets and the hours are way more.”
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