Veteran tennis star, Rafal Nadal will be aiming a record 14th Paris title as he confronts Gasper Ruud, who is seeking a maiden Grand Slam crown, in today’s French Open final.
Nadal, 36, had to overcome great rivals to make it into his 14th final at the French Open, such as Felix Auger-Aliassime, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, who couldn’t continue his battle in the semifinals due to an ankle injury.
However, the Spaniard has the opportunity to win his Grand Slam number 22 and extend his unbeaten record at Roland Garros finals.
Meanwhile, Ruud has already achieved his best result in a Grand Slam as he had not been pastthe fourth round in a major before. Nevertheless, he has his eyes on the prize and wants to become the first man to beat Nadal at this stage in this tournament.
The Norwegian has better numbers than the Spaniard in the tournament, including 52 aces and 259 winners. Can he also outperform him during the final?
As for their playing styles, both players deploy heavy spin and bank on their forehand to do the damage. However, Nadal comes to this final after getting a walkover as Alexander Zverev retired injured, while Ruud has momentum on his side, having beaten Marin Cilic in four games 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
On the other hand, Casper Ruud looks in great form having returned from one set down to win his semifinal match. This combined with the fact that he has age on his side should hold him in good stead even as all records weigh heavily in Rafael Nadal’s favour.
Road to the French Open final:
|Rafael Nadal (ESP)||Casper Ruud (NOR)|
|1st round||beat Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-2, 6-2, 6-2||beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-7(6), 7-6(4), 6-2, 7-6(0)|
|2nd round||beat Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-3, 6-1, 6-4||beat Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2|
|3rd round||beat Botic Van De Zandschulp (NED) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4||beat Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-2, 6-7 (3), 1-6, 6-4, 6-3|
|4th round||beat Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3||beat Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3|
|Quarterfinal||beat Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4)||beat Holger Rune (DEN) 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3|
|Semifinal||walkover after leading 7-6 (8), 6-6 against Alexander Zverev (GER)||beat Marin Cilic (CRO) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2|
This will be the first time that Nadal and Ruud will play against each other on tour. Nadal is coming to this match with a 7-2 win/loss record on clay this year, while Ruud has a 15-5 record on clay and two titles, Buenos Aires and Geneva. And in the last three years, he has won more matches than any other player on clay (66).
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Ahead of today’s final, Nadal stated that he has so much respect for Ruud and will be ready to face him.
“I have a huge respect for him,” Nadal said. “First of all in terms of a friend, he has a great character.”
“I’ve been looking up to Rafa,” Ruud said. “He never complains, he’s a perfect example of how I think you should behave on court: Never give up, never complain.”
Ruud says he has watched all 13 of Nadal’s previous title matches in Court Philippe Chatrier, so there’s a certain poetry to the fact that the two of them will have their first career meeting there.
“It’s obviously going to be tough,” Ruud said. “We all know what a great champion he is and how well he plays in the biggest moments and the biggest matches.”
“I’m just going to try to enjoy it. I will be the underdog, and I will try to, you know, tonight and tomorrow night dream about great winners and unbelievable rallies, because that’s what it’s going to take if I want to have any chance, and I will need to play my best tennis ever.
“But I still have to believe that I can do it, and I think part of my game today was working very well.”
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