Casper Ruud has been threatening to do something big on clay for some time. The Norwegian is one of the ATP Tour’s biggest specialists on the surface and at this year’s Roland Garros he delivered on his promise by earning himself a ticket to his first Grand Slam final.
The Norwegian had already reached the semi-finals at all three ATP Masters 1000 events on clay in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome. And earlier this year, he advanced to the championship match in Miami on hard (l. to Carlos Alcaraz). Now, he has reached new heights in the French capital.
“I think Casper is having a spectacular tournament,” Clar said. “The main goal was to take it match by match, as playing five sets mean very high physical and mental demands and we had to try and be as consistent as possible for the matches to go his way.”
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Ruud has grown through the rounds in Paris. In the first round he saw off Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the last match of the Frenchman’s career. In the second round he overcome Emil Ruusuvuori, and in the third round he defeated Lorenzo Sonego, while in the fourth round he proved too much for Hubert Hurkacz to handle. He would go on to defeat #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune in the quarter-finals and Marin Cilic in the semi-finals.
“I think being in a Grand Slam final is the best reward for the hard work and sacrifices of a lifetime,” acknowledges Clar. “Emotions are running high, the professional satisfaction is huge and we’re all proud of his work and consistency that has brought him to this point, as we’re in the best moment of his career.”
Ruud has amassed 30 wins from the 39 matches he has played in 2022, and he is just one short of his 150th career victory. Clay has been his most lucrative hunting ground with a total of 95 wins.
“The strengths of his game are his consistency, his forehand and his serve,” offers his coach. “I think the things he has improved most are aggressiveness and his emotional stability, which has made him a difficult player for any opponent to beat. Also, I think he has improved his backhand and he’s a more physically complete player.”
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Photo Credit: Getty Images
On the other side of the net will be 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, a player who also lends his name to Ruud’s training centre, the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar. Clar warns that his understudy is in fine form.
“Reaching a Grand Slam final is a dream come true for any player, as well as any coach, and especially for Casper reaching the final of Roland Garros and being able to play against Rafa, his idol since he was little, is something he will never forget,” he points out.
“They’ve trained together many times and it’s true that they know each other very well,” Clar said. “They respect one another and I’m sure we’ll see a great final, with very close points, as both of their games are based on being aggressive from the baseline. I think it’ll be a really thrilling match for both and thanks to them we’ll always remember it.
“I think it’s amazing and unique for the Academy. That on Sunday those two will meet in the final of Roland Garros is a huge success and I’m sure it will be unforgettable for everyone. Whoever wins, the Rafa Nadal Academy will take the title.” All will be revealed on Sunday from 3 pm local time.