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'Rafael Nadal is the player I look up to most of all,' says young ATP ace

Rafael Nadal roar

Casper Ruud has described Rafael Nadal as his 'biggest idol,' revealing the Spaniard is one of the reasons he wanted to play tennis. 

Ruud is currently the world number 25, and most experts expect him to climb higher than that in the coming years.

As the son of former player Christian Ruud he has tennis in his DNA, but it was Rafael Nadal who inspired him most of all.

"Rafa is one of the greatest of all time," Ruud told the Beyond the Baseline podcast. "I've been a fan of him since I started watching tennis. He's been my biggest idol and the one that I look up to the most of all the players.

"I remember he was probably the first I watched on TV, and I was dreaming of being on TV myself, playing big tournaments and big matches.

"So he's one of the reasons I really wanted to go for a professional career, and I remember even from a young age, when you're 8 or 10 years old, its just a dream, but then you reach 12, 13, 14 and it becomes more of a realisation."

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Despite studying him on television, Ruud says there is no substitute for seeing Nadal up close and personal, and he is grateful to have had the chance to do just that.

"I've observed him for many years, especially getting a chance to go to Mallorca to see him up close and personal and practice with him, its been a very big motivation," the 22-year-old explained.

"I think I've learned the most that even though how much he's won, he's still extremely humble and works as hard today as he did 15 years ago.

"He wants to go for more and more and that's one of the things that define him as a tennis player; how hard of a worker he is, how humble he is and how determined he is to become a better player all the time."

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