Casper Ruud Will Return To The French Open With Invaluable Experience From Finals

Ruud lost in straight sets to Rafael Nadal in last year's final at Roland Garros
14:00, 19 Apr 2023

The clay season is well underway and the countdown has already begun for the pinnacle of this part of the calendar, the French Open. Roland Garros has long been the home of Rafael Nadal, dubbed the King of Clay, thanks to his 14 titles at this particular Grand Slam.

The veteran Spaniard claimed his 14th piece of silverware in Paris last spring after defeating Casper Ruud in straight sets. Ruud is a prodigy of the Nadal Academy and a player who has been mentored by Nadal himself.

Like his tutor, Ruud favours his game on the clay court and nine out of his 10 ATP titles have been won on the surface. The 24-year-old performed brilliantly to reach the final in 2022 but he was bested by one of the sport’s greatest ever players to deny him his first major.


While it would have been a crushing defeat for the Norwegian in the immediate aftermath, it might just prove to be a great learning curve for him on this stage in the years to come. With the work rate and attitude he has, last year's heartbreak will spur him on to not only get to that level again but surpass it.

That match will have him better equipped for his return to the French Open because despite losing in straight sets, he now has the experience of taking part in two Grand Slam finals, having reached the US Open final in September (losing to Carlos Alcaraz). This can only aid him in his preparations for another crack at Roland Garros.

Ruud’s latest title on court came earlier this month at the Estoril Open (his first of the year) and he is currently awaiting to find out his opponent in the last 16 of the Barcelona Open as he aims to head to Paris both physically and mentally prepared for the challenges that the French Open throws at would-be champions.

Given the ratio of his titles won on clay, Ruud’s skillset is optimised to the surface that has brought Nadal so much success across his illustrious career and, as a student of the King of Clay, it comes as no surprise to see his best tennis played at these events.

An interesting aspect of Netflix's Break Point docuseries was Ruud’s determination in the run-up to his French Open final bow. There is a scene where he and his father head to one of the practice courts to get as much preparation in as possible - that is the kind of professional he is, always striving to be the best player he can be.

On that occasion his practice session was halted due to Roland Garros protocols for covering the courts when rain starts to fall, although it was spitting at best. Ruud showed his passion and frustration when his training was cut short and that in itself showed the character of a future Grand Slam champion.

Fans will be excited to see last year’s runner-up return to the French capital next month and many will be hoping that this will be the year that he claims his first Grand Slam title. The added experience of reaching two major finals in the last 12 months could be the fine margins that help him accomplish this.

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