Rafael Nadal aims to be the oldest French Open champion against pupil Casper Ruud | Tennis News



BETTING: Rafael Nadal will become the oldest man to win the French Open title if he beats Casper Ruud, the Norwegian whose clay-court skills he personally helped develop.
Nadal will play his 14th Roland Garros final on Sunday and his 30th overall at the Grand Slams.
Victory will deliver a 22nd major tournament and a record 14th Roland-Garros, 17 years after his victorious debut in Paris.
Nadal, 36, is however as surprised as anyone to have come this far.
A chronic left foot injury that has plagued him throughout his career erupted again in Rome last month, putting him in serious doubt until he traveled to the French capital.
“Without a doubt, I would rather lose the final and have a new footing,” admitted Nadal who made no secret of the stark reality that every game he plays at Roland Garros could be his last.


Image credit: ATP
Despite his fears, Nadal put up an impressive fight for Sunday’s league game.
It took him five sets and over four hours to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last 16 and four more hours to overtake Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
Alexander Zverev then pushed him all the way for three hours in the semi-finals until a sickening ankle injury forced the German world number three to retire on crutches.
Despite the German’s daring all-or-nothing challenge, Nadal still displayed an impressive presence on the pitch, winning at one point in a 44-shot rally.
“With each passing round, he turns into a new player,” coach Carlos Moya said.
Nadal’s record at Roland-Garros now stands at 111 wins and just three losses. Djokovic was responsible for two of those defeats.
Nadal was just 19 when he won his first French Open in 2005.
Sunday’s victory will make him the tournament’s oldest champion, eclipsing 34-year-old compatriot Andres Gimeno, who won the title 50 years ago.


Image credit: ATP
World number eight Ruud, 23, is the in-form clay court player on the tour.
Not only are seven of his eight career titles on clay, but he’s won 66 surface games since 2020 and made nine finals.
Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach a Grand Slam final.
Robin Soderling, a fellow Scandinavian, is the only other man besides Djokovic to beat Nadal in Paris in 2009.
Ruud has been training at Nadal’s academy in Manacor since 2018 alongside his father Christian, a former top-40 player, and Spaniard Pedro Clar.
Nadal and Ruud have never met professionally but they often hit partners in Spain where the Norwegian admits ‘he beat me pretty much all the time in training’.
“Casper has a very good character to play tennis. He’s very relaxed, humble. He’s always in a positive mood to learn,” Nadal said.
“I think at the academy we were able to help him a bit during that time.”
Ruud was just six years old when Nadal was crowned French Open champion for the first time and describes the Spaniard as his ‘idol’.
“I could probably tell you all the finals and who he played and who he beat, because I watched them all on TV,” the Norwegian said.
“He’s the greatest clay-court player of all time and one of the greatest all-around players.”
Nadal’s victory will give him the Australian Open-French Open double in the same year for the first time.
It would also put him halfway to a Grand Slam on the calendar, achieved just three times in history, the last of which was by Rod Laver in 1969.
“I fought, I did everything to give myself another chance to play the Roland Garros final,” Nadal said.
“All the sacrifices and all the things I have to go through to try to keep playing, really makes sense when you appreciate moments like me in this tournament.”


You Can Read Also

World News



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.