He doesn’t break a racquet, doesn’t shout at each ball strike, doesn’t discuss the referee’s decisions. We also don’t hear him complaining to his clan during his matches. Off the court? The young man does not make waves. And to top it off, he has the same first name as a friendly ghost.
Among the best tennis players in the world, Casper Ruud is the least noticed. Sunday June 11, however, the 24-year-old Norwegian shares the poster for the men’s final of Roland-Garros 2023 with the Serbian Novak Djokovic. An opponent he has never beaten – four defeats in as many matches, including two on clay.
“His goal is to get his 23e[sacre en Grand Chelem]. Me, my first… It makes a big difference. » In two sentences, the world number 4 has measured the immense challenge that now awaits him. It was after his semi-final, won without trembling against Alexandre Zverev (6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in 2:09) on Friday evening.
A year after being dropped by his ankle on this same Philippe-Chatrier court, the German (ex-world number 2) made his comeback in the last four of a major, against the Norwegian. It was 7 p.m. sharp when the two players entered a stadium deserted by spectators.
To digest the unfinished shock of the first semi-final between Novak Djokovic and world number one Carlos Alcaraz, the latter preferred to have an aperitif in the aisles of the Porte d’Auteuil site. Never mind, Caster Ruud cooked his opponent slowly. Patiently, methodically. Until a final forehand winner.
His style of play may seem basic. “I’d rather watch the paint dry than watch you play, you’re boring to death”once struck him on Twitter Australian Nick Kyrgios, a character as well known for his spectacular game as for his misconduct. In short, the antithesis of Casper Ruud on the circuit.
Fly up? Place cushions? Very little for the Scandinavian, who relies on his solidity behind the baseline. With his forehand shifts, he distributes slaps left and right, all with formidable consistency. “I have always been the player who wins games by making few unforced errors”recalled the interested party during the tournament.
Passed by the academy of Rafael Nadal
In the quarter-finals, it was the fiery Danish Holger Rune who paid the price, in a remake of the 2022 edition. In the previous round, the Chilean Nicolas Jarry – who had beaten him eleven days earlier in Geneva – had engaged in a showdown, but the match was ultimately won by Ruud in three sets.
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