After Iga Swiatek took the women’s crown in Paris on Saturday, all eyes are on Rafael Nadal (1/6) as the ‘King Of Clay’ aims to secure a remarkable record-extending 14th French Open title by beating Casper Ruud (4/1).
Rafael Nadal v Casper Ruud
Norwegian underdog Ruud stands in Nadal’s way as the Spaniard goes in search of yet more Roland Garros glory and it would be a major shock if the 36-year-old veteran is downed and fails to also extend his record tally of 21 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal, who is 10/11 to win in straight sets, has looked close to his superb best on the Paris clay once again this year, and didn’t drop a set in his first three matches, before being taken to five sets in a thriller by Felix Auger-Aliassime. He then defeated rival and 2021 champion Novak Djokovic in the quarters in four sets before getting past Alexander Zverev in the last four when the German was forced to retire through injury.
Now Ruud, seeded eighth, is the final hurdle and, while the 23-year-old has caught the eye getting this far, it is his first Grand Slam final and the occasion may get to him on Sunday afternoon.
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Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach a Grand Slam tournament final and has trained at Nadal’s academy in Mallorca since 2018. The rising star has billed himself as one of Nadal’s “students”, while admitting taking on his mentor in a major final is the stuff of dreams.
He said: “Nadal is the last of the very top players in the world I have never played against. I guess this is perfect timing and worth the wait. To finally play him in a Grand Slam final will be a special moment for me.”
The final is set to get underway just after 14:00 and Rudd is 12/1 to win in five sets.
On Saturday, 2020 champion Swiatek justified her billing as top seed as the Polish star had too much for American starlet Coco Gauff, winning comfortably in straight sets to secure her second Grand Slam title.
The 21-year-old won 6-1 6-3 to record her 35th straight victory – equalling the longest WTA streak this century – and won her ninth final in a row to underline her current dominance of women’s tennis.
Despite it being a Grand Slam final, Swiatek revealed her tactics afterwards. She said: “I try to treat a final like any other match. That is pretty hard and kind of not possible, because there are always going to be bigger amounts of stress.”
She added: “I’m also aware that my opponents are also going to be stressed. So I try to not panic and just be less stressed than they are.”
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