Casper Ruud, the new world number two, announced on Tuesday that he will begin his 2023 season at the Auckland Classic, which will reopen in January 2023 after a three-year hiatus due to Covid.

Despite losing the US Open final to Carlos Alcaraz of Spain on Sunday, the 23-year-old Norwegian reached a career-high ranking of second.

It was Ruud’s second Grand Slam final defeat of 2022, following his defeat to Rafael Nadal in the French Open in June.

Ruud, who has won ATP tournaments in Gstaad, Geneva, and Buenos Aires this year, will be the top player at the Auckland men’s tournament, which begins on 9 January, as he prepares for the Australian Open, which begins a week later.

New Zealand is a breathtakingly beautiful country. The conditions are similar to those in Melbourne, so it should be a fun tournament,” he said.

“As a huge Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fan, I know the nature and scenery are breathtaking, so it will be a pleasure to explore,” he added.

Ruud was eliminated in the round of 32 when the Auckland Classic was last played in 2020; since then, he has become the first Norwegian to break into the top 10 and would have been world number one had he defeated Alcaraz in Sunday’s US Open final.

The signing of Ruud, “one of the circuit’s most improved players over the past 18 months,” was dubbed a “coup” by tournament director Nicolas Lamperin.

Coco Gauff, the world’s eighth-ranked woman, announced last month that she will compete in the women’s Auckland Classic, which begins on January 2.

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