‘Casper Ruud has his chance – French Open is the best Slam to play Novak Djokovic at’

Novak Djokovic 2021 French Open Credit: Alamy
Novak Djokovic 2021 French Open Credit: Alamy

Alex Corretja believes Casper Ruud “has his chance” to win his first Grand Slam title against Novak Djokovic at the 2023 French Open.

The former world No 2 thinks the clay of Roland Garros is the best surface to face the legendary Serb on in the final of a major tournament.

Djokovic has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles – a men’s record he shares with Rafael Nadal. He has triumphed at the Australian Open 10 times, Wimbledon seven times, the US Open three times, and the French Open twice.

Casper Ruud will be competing in his third major title match, after reaching the final at both Roland Garros and the US Open in 2022.

The Norwegian was defeated by Nadal in straight sets in Paris and Carlos Alcaraz in four sets in New York.

Speaking to Eurosport, two-time French Open finalist Corretja lauded Djokovic for reaching his seventh final at Roland Garros.

“It’s insane what he’s doing because he’s recovering from not playing too many tournaments in the year. In the clay season, he didn’t play as many games as we thought he should,” said the Spaniard.

“But we pretty much felt that if he came here to Roland Garros and he has the chance to play tough matches, as he did in the early rounds, I think it was perfect preparation for him to reach the semi-finals.

“He’s in such good shape, he’s moving better; mentally you can see he had the momentum and also, he was hitting the ball pretty well and smoothly.

“He was also moving fast on the court, so it’s going to be very difficult to beat him in the final because he’s got experience. At the same time, he’s got so much pressure on his back. But it seems like he knows how to deal with that.”

Corretja also praised Ruud’s second consecutive run to the final of the French Open and analysed why he is so effective on clay.

“It’s unbelievable what Casper did, we knew that he was tough on clay and showed he was also tough on hard courts. Now he’s back in the final. He’s been working so hard and plays with a lot of top spin on his forehand. His backhand is high up and he’s serving really well,” explained Corretja.

“He’s returning far back, so it’s very difficult to win points against him when he’s on the court. He’s got the momentum, physically he’s very strong, mentally he’s very stable these days and looks very focused.

“He had the chance to play against Rafa last year, but had no chance to win. Against [Carlos] Alcaraz at the US Open, he was playing very well, and this is the third time he’s going to be there [Grand Slam final].

“He’ll have his chance for sure, but playing against Novak is not easy, but he should feel that it’s a nice opportunity. If you want to play Novak in a final of a Slam, maybe the surface you’re going to pick is Roland Garros.”

READ MORE: Casper Ruud obliterates Alexander Zverev in one-sided semi-final

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