Ruud annuls Djokovic and breaks his limits in Monte Carlo

The Norwegian will face Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday

April 13, 2024

By Staff

If the Principality brings together the biggest celebrities in the world, Casper Ruud deserved to rub shoulders with some of them. The Norwegian reached the final of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters this Saturday, marking the territory on clay, the surface on which he has brushed eternity during recent seasons on the ATP Tour. At 25 years old, the Scandinavian is ready to seek the big trophies on the circuit and the Monegasque Masters 1000 could be a great starting point.

The one from Oslo signed the biggest victory of his career, defeating world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom he beat 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in a round-trip battle, where he had both control and danger on the palm of his hands. With a performance full of coldness, stopping the reaction of a rival accustomed to surviving in extreme situations, Casper kept his gaze until reaching one of the most special finals of his career.

“I’m very happy,” Ruud said. “It’s a day I’ll remember for a long time. I’ve never beaten a world No. 1, I’ve never beaten Novak. I feel immense happiness. I’m in shock right now.”

“I had an advantage in the third set and he equalized me, something common in these players under pressure. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity and with the 0/40 in the last game it wasn’t close. When the first serve failed [con 30/40]I remembered the number of breaking balls he saves with the second serve. I prayed once for a double fault and someone heard me. It’s not nice to end the game like that but I felt satisfaction seeing the ball bounce.”

The reasons to think about the impossible were heavy in Ruud’s backpack. The Norwegian had never beaten a world Top 3 (0-11), the Roland Garros champion was waiting on the clay and all his previous duels against Djokovic had ended in defeat, without even having the slight relief of a set in his can.

The Court Rainier III in Monte Carlo, however, stripped all those thoughts from Casper’s mind, ready to sign off on one of the weeks of his life. His concentration at the beginning of the match, delivering two breaks to Novak in the first three turns to the rest, was a good indication of the duel that he would come to pose. Faced with the expectation of the public, always attentive to the problems of a great champion, Ruud won a first round with great personality.

A world No. 1 always responds and that is what Djokovic took charge of doing immediately in the second set. In a match full of effort, where the Serbian’s calmness was taken to the limit, Novak raised the level to show his authority. If Ruud had never won a set against him in the entire rivalry, the Serbian stepped on the accelerator to close the wound. In just over 30 minutes he had equalized an out-of-control match on his opponent’s best surface.

At that moment, the battle demanded extra strength from Ruud. When the match seemed to be tilting in favor of the first seed, Casper showed opposite intentions. Without abandoning his tenacity at the bottom, the Scandinavian won a 3-0 lead that few would have believed in. Although Djokovic gritted his teeth until he reached 4-4, a new life for a champion accustomed to the impossible, the world No. 10 kept his sights on taking victory. A double fault by Novak with match point gave Ruud the victory of his life.

With the opportunity to lift the most important cup of his career, Ruud must design a pure clay court match. The Norwegian will compete for the Monte Carlo throne against the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, two-time tournament champion and executioner of the Italian Jannik Sinner, the man to beat for the 2024 season. This Sunday’s event will be a head-to-head clash between two former Roland finalists Garros, with ingredients to delight clay court lovers.

References will not be abundant between two fixed men at the top of the ATP Tour. Ruud dominates the Lexus ATP Head2Head record over Tsitsipas by a brief 2-1, in a rivalry that premiered on the clay of the Mutua Madrid Open 2021, the only previous chapter on the surface. In addition, the Scandinavian won the last match held this season in the semifinals in Los Cabos.

“In tennis there is always one more match. Tomorrow will be a special day, playing a final in Monte Carlo,” Ruud said. “It’s a great result but I’ve been looking for a big trophy for years. Tomorrow I’ll have a new opportunity. I’m going to give it my all. I know Stef is playing well, he’s a great player on clay and other surfaces. Maybe clay is where he’s had the most success, especially in this tournament. It will be a tough game but I am ready.”

Djokovic leaves Monte Carlo without the trophy but with a personal boost. After equaling his best result in the Principality in nearly a decade, the Serbian climbs five positions from No. 13 to No. 8 in the PIF ATP Live Race To Turin. The next commitment for Novak, who has accumulated a record of 11-4 without titles this season, will be the clay court of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Did you know…?
Casper Ruud has won nine of his 10 ATP Tour titles on clay and all in the ATP 250 category. The Norwegian, who has already reached three Grand Slam finals and is facing his second ATP Masters 1000 final, will try to lift the biggest crown in Monte Carlo. important part of his sporting career.


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