Ruud wakes up as Casper sweeps Cilic to set up Nadal’s final clash
Casper Ruud weathered an early storm seeing off Marin Cilic and aiming for Rafael Nadal in the French Open final.
The Norwegian this week became the first man from his country to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, then he improved that by qualifying for the semi-finals, and now the final is on the way after a 3-6 6- 4 6-2 6 -2 wins.
A clay-court specialist, who has more wins, finals and titles among ATP Tour players than anyone since the start of the 2020 season, Ruud has shown the expertise that could make him a handful for Nadal. , 13 times champion, Sunday. Ruud describes Nadal as his ‘idol’.
That game was interrupted in the third set by a climate change activist who strapped herself into the net, but Ruud, who had taken a lead in the set, kept a cool head in the difficult circumstances.
Cilic had gotten off to a good start, but the 33-year-old Croatian’s onslaught became less threatening when Ruud mastered the procedure. 5-4 ahead in the second set, Ruud fell 0-40 down on serve but recovered from that precarious situation in style, sealing the game and leveling the game with a marvelous backhand winner down the line.
Suddenly erratic, Cilic missed a routine smash to give Ruud a break point early in the third set, and although the server saved that one, another miss over the Croatian caused the game to slip .
A delicious low backhand floating on the pitch and out of Cilic’s reach gave Ruud a double break, and he was not knocked down by the activist’s interference, with the players briefly led off the pitch.
The Oslo man wrapped up the third and tore up the fourth set, serving for love from the first call, and now the ultimate challenge awaits.
Data slam: Ruud racing through the heats
Ruud became the first man since Sweden’s Robin Soderling in 2009 to reach his first fourth round, quarter-final, semi-final and final at Roland Garros in the same year. Soderling lost in straight sets to Nadal in the final.
Ruud – 41/21
Cilique – 51/56
Ruud – 16/0
Cilique – 10/2
BREAK POINTS WIN/LOST
Ruud – 5/15
Cilique – 2/9