Casper Ruud believes soaring teenage star Carlos Alcaraz is “one of those new rare talents that you don’t see that often” in tennis.
Alcaraz, 18, has enjoyed a very impressive start to the season, going 18-2 including several top-10 wins, and beating Ruud in the final of the Miami Open.
Alcaraz is now up to No. 11 in the world rankings and is being talked about as a strong contender at the French Open next month.
“He’s one of those new rare talents that you don’t see that often,” world No.7 Ruud told the new Ruud Talk vodcast.
“And obviously if you look back in history, you see that these kind of players they reach far and they win big titles. And he has already won one of the bigger titles of the sports.
“So I think we’re all impressed and I’m also impressed, but many players they have close matches with him and of course he is beatable. It’s not like he’s inhuman, but he’s very impressive and I think of course he will probably only get better as the years go by and he will practice more and I know he’s a hard worker.
“He has a good team around him, Juan Carlos Ferrero has done all this before, he was No. 1 before. Also from Juan Carlos perspective, I think it would be fun and his goal is probably to produce another world No. 1 like a junior version of himself in a way.”
Ruud himself produced a strong showing in Miami as he beat world No. 3 Alexander Zverev and defending champion Cameron Norrie on his way to the final.
However, he could not finish off on a high note as Alcaraz won 7-5 6-4 to claim the first Masters title of his career.
“It’s impressive to watch and he’s very fearless on court, he goes for big shots at big moments and doesn’t hold back,” said Ruud.
“He never really holds back. He goes with a lot of power and a lot of sometimes risky shots, but he makes a lot of them. So it doesn’t always seem as risky. But as a player myself, you get surprised sometimes that he goes for certain shots, but he does them very often very well. So it’s also impressive.”
Ruud was one of the standout clay players last season, winning five titles on the surface and notching a tour-high 28 wins.
He faces either Holger Rune or Aslan Karatsev in his first match at the Monte Carlo Masters while Alcaraz meets Sebastian Korda in the second round.
If Alcaraz continues to progress at the event he could face world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
Ruud believes Alcaraz is one of the best youngsters to emerge on tour since Zverev, who won his first ATP title as a 19-year-old in 2016.
“I think that he is obviously one of the youngest and better players on tour at the moment and he has earned a lot of respect among the players because he is maybe the first one since I would say maybe Zverev to break out at such a young age.
“Some of us were already quite good under 20, but no one was really close to top 10 at 18 except for Zverev I believe.”
Alcaraz has said that he would relish the chance to face Djokovic for the first time.
“I hope to face Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Sometimes it’s difficult but I am trying to make it easy. The first time of everything to do my best and trying to manage the nerves of the first time well.
“I don’t want to be in a rush. I focus on the first round. Looking for the first round first but it would be a great match against the No.1 of the world. It’s amazing for me. But hope to play well in the first match and hope to meet him in the quarter-finals.”