Novak Djokovic has the opportunity to finally take a full lead in the slam rankings on Sunday when he goes for No. 23 in the French Open final against Casper Ruud. The World No.1 spot will also be his too with the win and as Wimbledon favourite too, the expectation would be that he holds on to that for several more months over the course of the year. The four matches between this pair have been pretty one sided so far with Djokovic winning all four matches in straight sets, including two on the clay of Rome.
Djokovic vs Ruud Roland Garros Prediction and Stats
The intensity and conditioning of Djokovic remains unmatched and it was shown once more in his 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 win over Casper Alcaraz in the semi final. It was an even match for the first two sets with both men playing some superb tennis before Alcaraz began to cramp, winning just one game more from this moment onwards. An injured player can often be a distraction so the third seed’s focus has to be commended to some extent. “I think we were both at the physical limit towards the end of the second set. I wasn’t feeling fresh at all. We went toe to toe. I think it was a quite even match, one-set-all, and then this thing happened with his cramp in the third game of the third set and from that moment onwards it was a different match. Obviously I just tried to stay focused, to stay present, and I saw that he was struggling, but I obviously didn’t want to think too much about what was going on the opposite side of the net.” he said after.
Ruud’s 6-3 6-4 6-0 win over Alexander Zverev was even more one sided although it did come out later that the German had picked up a thigh issue that hindered his play. The Norwegian put on a fine display of clean hitting, defending well and forcing his opponent to play more aggressively than he was comfortable with. He made just 19 unforced errors in the match with Zverev hitting nearly double across the three sets. “If it’s towards the end of the tournament, everyone here playing today has done well anyway. So I tried to play without pressure, without thinking too much, and not to play with too much emotion, if that makes sense.” he said. “Today just went really well. From the beginning to the last point everything was going my way, luckily, and I’m just very happy to win this match.”
It’s hard to see a successful strategy for Ruud in this match as going too aggressively is not his style while he will not fancy his chances either of dominating in the longer rallies. He will need to have a near-perfect day on the forehand side but Djokovic should be able to neutralize that as the match goes on too. Djokovic is also continuing to get free points on his serve, which should also help in the pressure moments. The only question will be around the arm issue that he received treatment for in the Alcaraz match – if no longer a problem, the best route to victory for Ruud can be written off.
With three finals in his last five tournaments it feels like Ruud will eventually be a slam winner given his consistency and record at slams but it will not be this time round. This match is going to be huge for Djokovic’s legacy with 23 on the line as well as the opportunity to have three slams at each tournament. A calendar slam would also not be out of the question with a victory here – he will be favourite at Wimbledon and anything could happen in the pressure cooker of New York.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets