Djokovic to take on Ruud in Battle for History in Roland Garros Final

Djokovic to take on Ruud in Battle for History in Roland Garros Final

4 min read

Novak Djokovic is one win away from a historic 23rd Grand Slam trophy with only one man left in his way, Casper Ruud. Can the Norwegian stop the Serbian in Sunday's final and win his maiden major?

Universal Tennis INSIGHTS. doesn’t think so. Let’s take a closer look at the men’s final.

(3) Novak Djokovic (16.37) vs. (4) Casper Ruud (15.98)

What could have been a marathon semifinal for Djokovic turned into a routine win when top seed Carlos Alcaraz started suffering from cramps in the third set on Friday. Instead of grinding out a few more hours, Djokovic cruised to a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 win.

The 36-year-old has dropped one other set this fortnight, against an in-form Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals. He's seeking his third Roland Garros title after winning in Paris in 2016 and 2021. If he defeats Ruud on Sunday, he’ll become the only player among his rivals Nadal and Roger Federer to win each major at least three times.

“Experience on my side, but does it win matches? I don’t think so," Djokovic said. "I just have to recover well, be prepared for another long battle, and, after the finals, if I win, let’s talk about history.”

In his strongest performance of the tournament, on Friday, Ruud dismissed Alexander Zverev in the semifinals in dominant fashion, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

Casper Ruud is seeking his first Grand Slam title. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Ruud has made history of his own already. He’s the highest-ranked Norwegian ever and the first to make a Grand Slam final. Sunday will not be his first time on the sport's biggest stage. The 24-year-old has appeared in two major finals, losing the 2022 Roland Garros title to Rafael Nadal and the 2022 US Open to Alcaraz.

“He’s playing for his 23rd; I’m playing for my first," Ruud said. "So I’m going to just try to play without pressure and just try to enjoy the moment. I think that was my mentality last year, as well, and it didn’t go my way. Obviously, I would like to try to do better than last year. Let’s see if I have learned something from the two previous ones that I played.”

INSIGHTS is siding with the obvious favorite, giving Djokovic a 74% chance of closing out his stay in Paris with the Roland Garros trophy. Though Ruud cracks into the 16 UTR level with his clay-court prowess (nine of his 10 ATP titles have come on clay), Djokovic still edges him on his favorite surface with a 16.28 UTR. The Serbian is notably 4-0 in career meetings against the Norweigian, with Ruud yet to win a set. Djokovic topped Ruud in the ATP Finals championship match in their most recent meeting.

“I'm just incredibly proud to again reach another final,” Djokovic said. "I’m very, very happy, but it's not finished. We have another match. To play another final here at Roland Garros is truly a dream, and I hope I can play at my best level on Sunday to win the title.”

•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 a.m. EST, June 10, 2023.

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