Get a little deeper into the story. Rafael Nadal can win his 22nd Grand Slam on Sunday, June 5, a 14th at Roland-Garros. Opposed to Casper Ruud, a surprise finalist and eighth player in the world, the Spaniard will face a novice at this stage of the competition. At the age of 23, the Norwegian will discover, on the Philippe-Chatrier court, the honors of a major final. “The game, on paper, is very unbalanced”comments Patrick Mouratoglou, France Télévisions consultant and coach of Simona Halep and Serena Williams.
FIRST FINAL IN GRAND CHELEM
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“Nadal has the perfect game, because he faces a player who plays the same tennis as him but who is obviously much weaker than him in that game.”emphasizes the former coach of Stefanos Tsitsipas. “Ruud has a big weak spot that is the reverse. It’s perfect for Nadal, with his left-handed play, who is used to locking his opponents on the reverse side better than anyone.”he adds.
This match is also a duel between two clay specialists, even if the Norwegian’s record seems very meager next to that of the “Taurus of Manacor”. His eight ATP 250 titles (fourth in the tournament), all won on the ocher surface, do not weigh heavily against Rafael Nadal’s 62 clay trophies (out of a total of 91).
The two players have gone through very different journeys in the last two weeks before reaching the final. The landlord had to eliminate Félix Auger-Aliassime (No. 9 in the world), Novak Djokovic (No. 1 and title holder) et Alexander Zverev (n ° 3)after particularly intense matches. “He had a picture of enormous difficulty, it’s a feat to see him in the final”reacts Patrick Mouratoglou.
“It was very hard to imagine him in the final because his preparation was cut short due to injuries and then it was hard to do worse as part of the table.”Patrick Mouratoglou, coach
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Conversely, Casper Ruud did not meet a single player in the top 10 to reach the final, taking advantage of the early eliminations of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev. His best-ranked opponent in this edition, before the final, was the Pole Hubert Hurkacz (No. 13 in the ATP).
Passed between the drops, the Oslo native could enjoy this advantage as the Majorcan seems to have drawn on his resources. “It feels like he’s coming to the final tired, after a lot of trying games both physically and mentally. “He was in suffering and fighting.”analysis Patrick Mouratoglou.
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So Casper Ruud will have to do everything to exhaust his opponent who has only bowed out three times at Roland Garros, but never in the final. “He’s going to have to have a real strategy if he wants to beat Rafa because he can’t just rely on his qualities. I think Zverev has opened doors with an exceptional move, a big defense. He’s going to have to get back on track with a very clear vision and strategy and execute them to perfection ”warns Mouratoglou.
But Nadal’s real rival may not be on the other side of the net. Embarrassed by a rare foot disease for monthsRafael Nadal has a big threat in his shoe to prevent him from adding a shiny new line to his record.