Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud will wrap up their offseason exhibition tour of Mexico and South America on Thursday night.
Since their participation in the Nitto ATP Finals, where Nadal was eliminated in round-robin and Ruud finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic, they have already played four matches against each other in South America. Nadal leads the friendly matchup 3-1, with victories in Buenos Aires, Bogota, and Belo Horizonte. Ruud’s lone victory so far has come in Quito, which was their third stop. Nadal also made an appearance in Santiago, where he defeated Chile’s own Alejandro Tabilo.
Thursday’s exhibition featuring Nadal and Ruud will be held in Mexico City.
Although Nadal and Ruud may be 13 years apart in age (36 to 23), they have a special connection because Ruud has been a frequent visitor of the Rafael Nadal Academy in Mallorca throughout his career. The Norwegian first made the RNA his home training base in September of 2018 and since then he has become one of Nadal’s primary practice partners.
“You can learn everything from Rafa–from any type of shot to mentality and professionalism,” Ruud commented. “When I arrived at the academy I was surprised by the intensity of each training session, and that has helped me to increase the intensity that I put into each practice. Rafa’s team and his family are incredible. They have always been with me and they do a spectacular job with a young community.”
Nadal also hopes to play future exhibitions against one of his contemporaries–Roger Federer. The recently-retired Swiss was supposed to play an exhibition with Alexander Zverev in Bogota three years ago, but it was cancelled because of local rioting. Following Nadal’s recent match against Ruud, the Spaniard told the Bogota crowd that he and Federer will be on the court there at some point in the future.
“Perhaps the greatest rival of my sports career, Federer, didn’t have the opportunity to play in front of you because of a very difficult situation,” Nadal said. “He always told me about the great disappointment and sadness that this caused him. And honestly, from here, I say that I am confident that in the future I can be here with him, playing a game in front of all of you.”