In the second French Open men’s semifinal of the day, it was the battle between two of the finest clay court players on the ATP Tour who have yet to win a Grand Slam title.
Casper Ruud was the finalist in two Grand Slams last year, losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 French Open and to Carlos Alcaraz in the 2022 U.S. Open.
Ruud has found his form at the right time, taking out Alexander Zverev in straight sets.
Ruud d. Zverev 6-3 6-4 6-0
Casper reaching back to back Roland Garros finals is absolutely iconic
What’s even more iconic? Facing Rafa Nadal & Novak Djokovic in both of those finals
✅3rd Grand Slam Final out of the last 5 Slams.
Underestimate him at your own risk.
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) June 9, 2023
For Zverev who suffered the horrific injury that ended his season in the semifinals last year in Paris, it was a day loaded with unforced errors and missed opportunities.
Zverev will be disappointed with his performance in the semifinals but has to feel good about his comeback from the injury.
Djokovic Vs. Ruud
If history is any indication, Novak Djokovic must feel good about his chances against Ruud.
He is 4-0 against him in his career.
Two of the matches were on clay and two were on hard courts.
None of these matches happened at a Grand Slam so they were won by Novak in best-of-three-set formats.
Ruud has not even taken a set from Djokovic.
Going into his 34th career Grand Slam final, Djokovic certainly is the overwhelming favorite.
Ruud, who is 24 years old with his experience in the Grand Slam finals last year, could pull off the upset if he is at the top of his game.
That means clean serving and limited unforced errors.
He also needs to mix things up to keep Djokovic off rhythm.
If Djokovic can anticipate what Ruud will do, as he did in the first set against Alcaraz, it will not be a competitive match.
Ruud is coached by his father, Christian Ruud, who is a former professional tennis player.
It will take the best match strategy concocted by the father and son team, executed to perfection, to keep Djokovic from becoming the all-time leader in Grand Slams in the men’s game.
If he wins on Sunday, he reaches 23 with Rafael Nadal at 22 and Roger Federer at 20.
There is a modicum of irony in the fact that Djokovic could overtake Nadal at the Grand Slam that Rafa has owned, as the 14-time winner.
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