Nadal vs Ruud Odds
|Time||9 a.m. ET|
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Casper Ruud is in his first Grand Slam final, and it’s been a somewhat unlikely run. The road probably ends here, however, with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal standing on the other side of the net.
Is there hope for the youngster or will Nadal roll as he has done so many times on the Philippe-Chatrier court?
Let’s dive into this one.
Nadal healthy and in the final
We’ve been stressing about Nadal’s foot for weeks, but it turns out the Spaniard had what it took to limit the pain and persevere through to the Roland Garros final.
After reaching the fourth round with a few no-nonsense wins, Nadal had to play five sets against Felix Auger-Aliassime before knocking out rival Novak Djokovic in a thrilling quarter-final victory in four sets.
What followed next was an utterly bizarre win over a semi-final retirement.
Facing world number 3 Alexander Zverev, Nadal led 6-2 in the first set tiebreak before erasing the lead and taking the set in over an hour.
After trading breaks with the German and eventually breaking him as he served for the set, Nadal managed to force a second tiebreaker as Zverev suffered a horrific ankle injury. Despite only completing one set, Nadal played three hours on Chatrier in what was a very trying match.
We have to wonder how Nadal is feeling at this point, although it should be noted that he will enter Sunday’s final with a full day off which should do wonders for him. The man has only lost three times at Roland-Garros and he will know that his most difficult trials are behind him.
Ruud takes advantage of the draw
The young Norwegian is really lucky to be here.
Ruud was an injury to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga away from going five sets with a 37-year-old who was playing his last ATP match. Then he lost two sets to one against Lorenzo Sonego and again in the quarter-finals he lost two leads against Holger Rune.
Nothing about Ruud’s run here has been convincing, which pretty much sums up his clay-court season so far. Despite one of the most devastating matches on clay a year ago, Ruud had failed to produce this level in 2022, perhaps too focused on improving his ability on hard court, which was lacking at the start of last season.
Ruud has only won four matches between the three clay-court Masters 1000 tournaments this year, a very disappointing performance.
Yet Ruud is there, with a chance to win his first Grand Slam on his favorite surface.
He’s one injury away from Nadal being put in the driver’s seat in a Major final, and that’s something the 23-year-old could be scared of. He’s struggled to keep his composure over the past couple of years, but perhaps a strong semi-final performance against Marin Cilic is what he needed to get his feet back on track.
Assuming both men are (mostly) healthy, Ruud can’t compete with Rafael Nadal.
Only a player with a superb mind and an unstoppable serve would even be able to take a set from the 13-time champion on Chartier in the final, let alone win the match.
So after a week and a half of heart-pounding tennis and some shocking upsets, I’m afraid we’ll end the Championships with three days of single results.
Ruud lacks focus or firepower on serve to attempt a set here. His tournament had been filled with nervous matches until Friday’s semi-final, giving breaks left and right and giving his opponents the opportunity to enter the game.
He should have made five with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, probably should have lost to Lorenzo Sonego and came close to losing two leads and dropping two sets against Holger Rune.
The difference here is that against Nadal at Roland Garros, you won’t come out of a set alive if you get three points on serve like Ruud has become accustomed to doing this fortnight.
Also, you won’t be able to survive a match where you can’t hit a backhand. This shot is a huge weakness for Ruud, and you can expect Nadal to punish this wing all day. Nadal’s forehand into Ruud’s backhand is a horrible exchange for the Norwegian.
As good as his forehand has been at times, he still lacks the clay-court bite he had last season.
Like I said up top, your only way to influence a match against Nadal at Roland Garros is probably with unstoppable serve and an incredible will to win.
Ruud’s nerves have gotten the better of him at times in this tournament and his serve is expected to come back into play at a high pace. When you also consider that this will be a match he’s waited his whole life against his idol growing up, it’s hard to see the kid having the guts to push through this one and hit some big punches.
He’s going to be shaking in his shoes, and without a good start this game will end quickly.
Bet: Nadal 3-0 (+115 via FanDuel)