It all comes down to this. Rafael Nadal is shooting for his 22nd Grand Slam title and 14th French Open crown against first time Major finalist Casper Ruud.
It hasn’t been a flawless tournament from Nadal. In each of his last three matches, the Spaniard has been tested and, at points, has faltered. That said, when Auger-Aliassime, Djokovic and Zverev are down the other end of the court, total dominance is near-impossible.
Nadal’s semi-final win over Zverev was a testament to his trademark grit and determination. He had absolutely no right to win that first set tiebreak from 2-6 down. The German’s level was sensational and yet, Nadal still found a way.
Nadal’s ability to pick himself off the canvas doesn’t bode well for Ruud who has shown a penchant for lapses throughout this tournament. Whether the Norweigan can actually knock Nadal down though, I have my doubts.
Ruud, without a doubt, found himself drawn in the more appealing half of the draw. No Djokovic, Alcaraz or Nadal offered him the best chance to make a Grand Slam final of his career. That’s easy to say and much harder to do though and Ruud has done well to navigate his way to this point.
Four set wins over two very different opponents in Rune and Cilic were impressive and 96 winners to 45 unforced errors across those two matches is a mark that very few could hope to replicate. Ruud will need to replicate those sorts of numbers to give himself a chance here.
Nadal was able to constantly find his way into Zverev’s service games in their semi-final and it’s hard to imagine a world where we don’t see more of the same in this one. If Ruud struggles for easy holds from the jump, Nadal will grab the ascendancy and never relinquish it.