Novak Djokovic on cusp of historic twenty third grand slam as he faces Casper Ruud in French Open males’s closing | CNN




CNN
 — 

For years, the ‘Huge Three’ of males’s tennis – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – have hoovered up grand slams, every offering their very own causes to be topped as the best males’s participant of all time.

Now, with Federer retired and Nadal injured, Djokovic has a possibility to stake his personal declare in that never-ending debate and win a document twenty third grand slam title on Sunday on the French Open, surpassing the mark he presently holds with Nadal.

Standing in Djokovic’s manner is Casper Ruud, who has now reached three of the final 5 grand slam finals, together with final yr’s closing at Roland Garros the place he was dismantled 6-3 6-3 6-0 by Nadal.

If Djokovic can win on Sunday, he may also return to the highest of the world rankings and change into the primary male participant to win every grand slam match no less than thrice. Such stress, nonetheless, is acquainted to the Serb, he stated after his semifinal victory.

“Historical past is at all times one thing that’s hovering over me, however I’m very glad to be on this place to write down historical past of this sport,” he stated, in response to the ATP Tour. “I’m simply fascinated with successful the subsequent match.

“Strain is at all times on my shoulders, so it’s not going to be completely different. But it surely’s a part of my sport, a part of my life, all that I do. I feel that having stress is a privilege. But it surely’s a supply of motivation, as effectively. Nice motivation to play effectively and to succeed in Sunday.”

It has been a comparatively simple path to the ultimate for Djokovic, as he has dropped simply two units – one in opposition to Karen Khachanov within the quarterfinals and one in opposition to the No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz within the semifinals.

That match in opposition to Alcaraz had been billed as a basic, however ultimately, Djokovic coasted to victory after the younger Spaniard suffered from cramp at the start of the third set, with the match finely poised at a set apiece.

The Serb has been imperious in grand slams over the past three years, a loss to Nadal on the French Open final yr the one blemish on the majors through which he has been capable of compete.

However lining up in opposition to such a dominant participant is a well-known place for Ruud as he faces an opponent in search of to interrupt or lengthen their document grand slam title complete for the second consecutive yr.

“Final yr it was in opposition to Rafa, this yr it’s in opposition to Novak, so what are you able to say? It’s two of the hardest gamers in historical past,” Ruud stated after his semifinal victory, in response to the Guardian. “I’ve acquired to be the underdog like right this moment, taking part in with out too many emotions, simply attempt to take pleasure in.”

The 24-year-old Norwegian has by no means even gained a set in opposition to Djokovic, shedding all 4 of their matches, and that gulf ensures that he’ll stroll onto courtroom because the underdog, although he can now draw on the expertise of two earlier grand slam closing appearances.

Casper Ruud was defeated by Nadal in last year's French Open final.

“It’s going to be robust, for certain,” Ruud stated, in response to the ATP Tour. “He’s taking part in for his twenty third. I’m taking part in for my first. So I’m going to only attempt to play with out stress and simply attempt to benefit from the second.

“I feel that was my mentality final yr (in opposition to Nadal) as effectively, and it didn’t go my manner. Clearly, I want to attempt to do higher than final yr. Let’s see if I’ve discovered one thing from the 2 earlier (main finals) that I performed final yr. It simply feels nice to be again.”

Regardless of coming into the match after a blended begin to the season, Ruud has discovered his kind, successful in opposition to a top-10 participant at a grand slam for the primary time when he defeated Holger Rune within the quarterfinals, and dismantling Alexander Zverev within the semifinals.

That semifinal efficiency will provoke Ruud forward of the ultimate, as he seeks to upset the chances and take a primary grand slam title.

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