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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Rafael Nadal v Casper Ruud: French Open 2022 men’s singles final – live! | French Open 2022

Nadal takes the first set 6-3

Ruud’s error hands over the first point. Then Nadal miscues himself. Ruud opens up the court and blams a forehand home. 15-30, and pressure on Nadal. The next serve is not returnable. Nadal fidgets away before the next serve, and Ruud’s failure to return it sets up set point. When Ruud can only hit the umpire’s chair with his service return the deal is sealed.

Rafa takes the first set.
Rafa takes the first set. Photograph: Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

Nadal 5-3 Ruud*

New balls, and a fine first point for Ruud, then a brutal point from mid-court to go to 30-0 up. Then Nadal stuns the ball dead with a backhand volley. Ruud does similar to go 40-15 up, chasing up to the net. Nadal tries for a winner, and misses, and must now serve for the first set.

*Nadal 5-2 Ruud

To go to 40-0 up on his serve, the Nadal forehand thrashes a winner down the line. But then misses the next. And the next, with Ruud starting to get some joy on his supposedly weaker backhand. Ruud takes Nadal to the wire at game point, making his chase down the ball but he makes it, and takes the game, and a commanding lead in the first set.

Photograph: Benoît Tessier/Reuters

Nadal 4-2 Ruud*

Nadal’s forehand is in working order, and wins the first point. Hugh Grant and Michael Douglas are caught in the crowd. A drop shot from Ruud catches Nadal out for 30-15 but then Nadal whips a passing shot back from whence it came. But when he chases a winner, he misses down the line and Ruud holds his serve for the first time.

*Nadal 4-1 Ruud

Nadal’s turn to try and hold, and he gets himself to 40-0 in typical style, out-running Ruud on the third point. The Norwegian comes to the net to strike back for 40-15, but the Nadal serve gets the job done. Neither player at their best but Nadal better equipped to ride out the setbacks.

Nadal 3-1 Ruud*

Ruud needs to hold his own serve, but fails to do so. He loses out on the first rally, then wins the second by disguising his winner. The third point sees him wildly miss the court, and 15-30 is a glimmer for Nadal. But then he nets when the ball seems to have sat up for him to thrash home. Then Ruud shows Nadal how’s it’s done, 40-30, only for him to make a mess of a backhand. Another error presents a break point to Nadal, and he takes it when forcing Ruud to hit from deep, and he can’t get over the net.

*Nadal 2-1 Ruud

Break back! Nerves for the great man Nadal misjudges a forehand to level up at 15-15. Then comes a double fault, only his 13th of the entire tournament. Then comes another, a 14th, and two break point. Then Ruud overhits the first. The serve is still wobbly for Nadal, and on the second serve he can only net his return of Ruud’s return. Hello there.

Casper Ruud breaks back immediately.
Casper Ruud breaks back immediately. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Nadal 2-0 Ruud*

An early break. Nadal takes the first point by skidding a drop shot home. A decent serve catches him out for 15-15, Then, after Ruud seems to have the upper hand, he is played into a position from which he can only net. Then two overheads grab two break points for Nadal. Rudd saves the first with a top-spun forehand. And then, an incredible winner from Nadal takes the break, from the baseline his passing shot, at speed, thunders home.

Rafa means business.
Rafa means business. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

*Nadal 1-0 Ruud

And away we go, with Nadal throwing first and winning the first point off a short rally. Then comes a drop shot that Ruud cannot return. The Norwegian gets his first point when Nadal goes long after a lengthy baseline rally. A backhand crasher wins the first game for Nadal.

The knock-up begins, and so does talk that this could Nadal’s last ever match.

Nadal comes out, jigging up and down in his neon trackie top, and that sends out Ruud to meet the crowd, who give him warm if not exactly effusive applause. Nadal does one last check of his crown jewels and then heads out to pretty loud applause. It’s hardly the New Den, though, as this is Roland Garros on finals Sunday. Perhaps the audience will rattle their jewellery later as it gets more exciting.

The players are in the tunnel, Ruud pacing up and down, full of nervous energy, and Nadal is making him wait.

John McEnerney: “Casper has the toughest test in not just tennis but sport beating Rafa in RG! If the duct tape holds up Rafa in 4. Hopefully the occasion won’t get to Ruud & he’ll give Terminator 21 a run for his money.”

Gary Naylor’s been living the Good Life: “Ah yes. Jerry and Margo would be in immaculate kit, Jerry a little embarrassed by Margo’s dubious calling. Tom would use an old Maxply Fort to throw in the odd kick serve to show he could play once. And Barbara? ‘Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn…’”

El Rey gets in touch, and makes some good points, saying: “Ruud has sounded very relaxed and zen about this match.”

  • He’s played sets against Nadal in Mallorca
  • He’s won the most on clay the last year or so
  • He’s young and uninjured
  • Nadal was not looking like a sure thing against Zverev
  • Nadal’s foot or ribs could come into play

“If Ruud plays fearlessly, he could shock the world. Then the papers can come out with headlines like ‘A Ruud Awakening!’.”

All sound logic, and not beyond the realms of possibility.

How Ruud.
How Ruud. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

After her defeat to Iga Swiatek yesterday, Coco Gauff lost again in a French Open final, this time in three sets in the women’s doubles. Her partnership with Jessica Pegula was defeated by Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.

Casper Ruud actually trained at Nadal’s tennis academy – like watching David Beckham play competitively against Bobby Charlton – and now he faces his idol. Some quotes from the official Roland Garros site, including mention of his expertise on clay, on which surface he’s won seven titles, which makes him the most on-form player on that surface.

He’s the last player of the ‘Big Three’ and the very, very top players in the world I have never faced. I guess this is perfect timing and it was worth the wait. To finally play him in a Grand Slam final will be a special moment for me. Hopefully a little bit for him as well. He has played so many finals, but at least he’s playing a student from his academy this time. It’s going to be a fun one, hopefully.

“For me, I don’t know what to say, I just feel a little bit more comfortable on it, moving around and, in a way, it just kind of suits my game better. I like the fight, the hustle, and just everything about the clay. Of course it’s physically tough. You will usually play some long rallies, but I like it.

Tumaini Carayol, our man in Paris, previewed the men’s final.

This could not be a more difficult task for Casper Ruud, the first Norwegian man to reach a grand slam final. Nadal is Ruud’s idol, which has led to Ruud spending his last few years based at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor. While they have trained together many times there, Ruud has never faced Nadal in a match. He will not only have to emotionally adapt to playing in a grand slam final for the first time but to also staring down the legend across the net.

An even bigger obstacle for Ruud, though, is that he plays a lesser style inspired by Nadal, centred around heavy topspin forehands and steadfast consistency. Ruud had a pleasant draw in the bottom half, his highest-ranked opponent being the No 12 seed, Hubert Hurkacz, and this will be the most difficult challenge of his career.

Plucky Brit corner, the pluckiest of Brits in fact, Sir Andrew himself, who lost in the semis at Surburbiton, home of Tom, Barbara, Jerry and Margo.


History awaits on Philippe Chatrier. Whatever happens. In Rafa Nadal’s case, it’s the extension of his dominance of this tournament, a command that no man – or woman – has matched. Nadal and Roland Garros go together like gin and tonic, light and bitter, cheese and onion, and he has made some fine players look ordinary on that court. Novak Djokovic, one of the three modern greats, was robotic, jerky, restricted in the epic quarter-final they played this week. Had Sasha Zverev’s ankle not exploded on Friday, then maybe Nadal might not be here though he had already denied the German set points and was pushing towards a second when the end came.

Against him comes Casper Ruud, a first ever Norwegian men’s grand slam finalist, though one who put away Marin Cilic in the semi in some style. Ruud is a clay specialist, and at 23, has reached a major final where some of his more vaunted contemporaries have struggled in these days of late-stage tennis superheroes. Nadal, 36 just on Friday, is hobbling on one foot, has the knees of a retired coal miner, and can occasionally wobble. And yet, he’s Rafael Nadal, going for his 22nd grand slam, which would take him beyond his great rivals, meaning Djokovic, 35 himself, will have to win three more to surpass the Spaniard. Semi-retired Roger Federer is on 20, too.

So then, history. They will serve the first point around 2pm UK time.

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