Casper Ruud advanced to his first Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday at Roland Garros. It is safe to say the Norwegian did not eat any tomato in the pre-match meal that helped fuel him across the line.
In this edition of ‘Food Court’, Ruud dishes on his favourite meal to cook, his guilty pleasures, why he does not eat tomatoes and more.
Getting To Know… Casper Ruud
Let’s say you have to cook tonight, whether for yourself or for friends. What would you cook and why?
I would go for spaghetti vongole. It’s an Italian pasta dish with clams from the sea. I really like it and it’s not too difficult to make, actually. It sounds a bit fancy, but it’s not difficult at all.
How would you rate your cooking skills? Are you close to a Michelin star?
No, I’m not a Michelin star. I’m far, far away from it. Most days in my year I eat either in restaurants or takeout. [I go to] restaurants obviously when I’m out travelling and when I’m home I try to do some home-made meals, but mostly takeout as well.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I like Asian food, Asian flavours. Japanese and Thai. I really like pad Thai. I always try to find it whenever I’m travelling around a place that has great pad Thai, which is a quite simple noodle dish. But sushi is also one of my favourites, but I also have to say Italian food is on the top there.
What do you eat right before a match and how many hours before the match do you eat it?
I always eat the same for lunch or dinner before a match. I eat a very simple, plain rice with chicken, some olive oil and salt. It seems like a smart thing to do, it’s quite easy and some good carbohydrates if I have to play a long [match]. It’s not too much flavor obviously, that’s why I add a little bit of salt. Salt is also good for sweating a lot, which I do. I think we found a good way to do it before matches.
I always try to eat around an hour and a half or two hours before the match so that the food has time to sink and I don’t feel heavy or too full when I go out on court. After matches I try to have some protein and some food right away, right after the match.
What do you snack on during a match? Has that changed over the years and if so, what did you used to eat?
I have some bars and some gels and maybe a banana here and there, but not typically. For best-of-five sets yes, I’d consider it more, but not too much I would say.
The thing is that I’m sweating a lot, so when you’re sweating and your body is hot or warm from sweating, you don’t really have the biggest appetite, so I find it quite hard to eat during [a match]. But some bars and some stuff is quite simple. It has changed. Everything has become increasingly more professional for me now than let’s say five years ago.
I’ve been quite good with those routines and I always try to eat healthy or as healthy as I can. Obviously on match days, I try to keep it very simple.
What might you eat during a non-tournament week that you wouldn’t during a tournament?
I think maybe I add a little bit more dessert when I’m not in tournament weeks, but I’m quite a simple guy when it comes to eating. Asian and Italian food is kind of where I spend most of my meals. Obviously sometimes I try to have some American food, especially [in the United States]. I’ll have some burgers or ribs. I always enjoy those things, but not too much. You could [feel] quite heavy from it before a match.
What is something people might be surprised to hear you enjoy?
I really like mussels and clams, so that’s not something that I think everybody likes. But I’m quite picky at the same time. I don’t eat tomatoes. I don’t find them tasty at all. I know tomato is in a lot of dishes, so that’s a bit unfortunate, but I’m quite picky. I don’t really like mushrooms either. There are some things that I try to stay away from, but I would say mussels and clams are not typical in my family to like, but I do.
What is the best meal from your culture/country?
I would say that we have great salmon, which is kind of our pride. Our salmon is top notch, I think. We don’t have many typical dishes that are honestly too good, but the salmon we take good pride in.
Is there something about your diet that you might not have known as a junior that has really helped you?
I think I try to eat a little bit of green every day, either vegetables or salad. I actually feel it helps your body. It’s easy, but at the same time very important for the body. I didn’t like it too much when I was younger, but luckily I came to like it a little more as I’m getting older. My taste is getting more mature, so it’s easier for me now to eat green stuff.
What is your favourite place on Tour for food?
Favourite place for food? Ooh. We are always very well taken care of, we have many options. But I think one of the tournaments that does incredible lunch and dinner is Vienna, the ATP 500 event. There you find very good pasta, a good salad bar, good meat as well if you want to have that. They do a very, very good job and I always enjoy Austrian food with schnitzel and everything. I enjoy being there.