PARIS – Eighth seed Caspar Rudd is the first Norwegian to reach the Grand Slam singles final and set up a set after defeating errant Marin Cilic 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-2 in a set on Friday. The French Open title fight is against 13-time champion Rafa Nadal.
As a result of his victory over Croatia on the court of Philippe Chatterjee, Rudd would at least rise to sixth place in the career-high world rankings if the list was updated at the end of Roland Garros’ Claycourt Grand Slam.
“It was a great match for me. I didn’t make a great start, but from that break (the second set) I played some of my best tennis this year, “Roude said in his on-court interview.
“Marin is usually someone who plays very fast and plays the balls very hard. I thought I should go a little further and counter-attack and take some quick shots. It helped. “
Rudd competed 2-0 head-to-head with former world number three Cilic and a great record on claycourt. Before Friday’s match, the Norwegian, since 2020, has won a tour-leading 65 matches and seven titles on the surface.
But it was Croat, 10 years older than his 23-year-old opponent who drew the first blood, breaking Rudd twice in the opening set to advance the nose.
Big-hitter Cilic, the 20th pick, rusted on the court with the winners from his powerful forehand and defended all three breakpoints he faced in his own delivery.
But Ruud soon showed why he exploited Cilic’s strength through his tough defense in the third game of the second set to be so respectable on the ground, forcing his opponent to create an array of mistakes that didn’t force him to split.
As well as serving for the Rud set, Cilic had multiple chances to equalize in the competition but the Norwegian trailed 0-40 and clinched the stanza with a burning backhand below the line.
Cilic’s frustration continues to grow as Lankie Croats completely loses control of his groundstroke and his irregular errors increase as Rudd leads 4-0 in the third set.
The match was interrupted for more than 15 minutes during the third set when Rudd served 4-1 when a protester jumped on the court and threw himself into the net.
Rudd lost the next two points of the resume but recovered to save two break points to hold a 5-1 lead before serving for the set at his next opportunity.
Another double break early in the fourth was enough for Rudd and he sealed the contest in three hours with the 16th ace of the match. Cilic’s sad evening ended with 56 unforced errors – compared to just 21 from his opponents.
Ruud has broken Cilic’s serve a total of five times and on Sunday he will face Nadal, who is aiming for a record-breaking 22nd major title. Nadal improved in the middle of the match after his opponent Alexander Zaverev retired with an ankle injury.
“He’s the last player in the Big Three I’ve never played against,” Roude said. “I think it was the perfect time and it was worth waiting for him to finally reach the Grand Slam final.
“It simply came to our notice then. He has played a lot of finals but at least this time he is playing a student of his academy. It will be fun. “
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