“Djokovic is playing for his 23rd – I’m playing for my first!” Why Casper Ruud wants to enjoy the Roland-Garros occasion

Casper Ruud will be trying to relax as he heads out for his second Roland-Garros final in a row

Casper Ruud Casper Ruud after beating Alexander Zverev (Chryslene Caillaud/Panoramic)

It was a dominant display by Casper Ruud, dismissing Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 to reach his second consecutive Roland-Garros final.

He knows, of course, that it will not be straightforward at all on Sunday as he faces Novak Djokovic in the final.

“It’s going to be tough, for sure,” he told reporters in his post-match press conference. “He’s playing for his 23rd. I’m playing for my first. So I’m going to just try to play without pressure and just try to enjoy the moment.

“I think that was my mentality last year, as well, and it didn’t go my way [against Rafael Nadal]. Obviously I would like to try to do better than last year. Let’s see if I have learned something from the two previous ones that I played last year.

“It just feels great to be back. I didn’t think or necessarily believe in the beginning of the tournament that I was going to be in the final.”

Ruud: It’s easy to stress and overthink – maybe that’s what happened to Alcaraz

The 24-year-old added that he hoped he would be able to relax enough to enjoy the occasion – and perhaps learn a little from 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who said that nerves and tension contributed to his debilitating cramps in his semi-final against Djokovic.

“I think it’s just a matter of not thinking like, ‘I need to win this match, there’s a really big need for me to win this match.’ This is a word that I try to sort of avoid. Obviously in the beginning of the tournament, that’s sort of what you feel more and what you think about more, like this is important to try to get this win and get going in the tournament.

“But now I’m in the final. It’s been a great two weeks no matter what happens on Sunday, and I’m going to of course give it my all, but sometimes you play your best tennis when you don’t think too much. It just goes on automatic mode.

“If you always think, like, ‘Oh, I’m close to winning,’ you can sort of tense up and you can be nervous. Maybe that’s what happened with Carlos [on Friday], I’m not sure. But when you’re thinking too much and feeling pressure, maybe you’re not able to breathe in the proper way and calm your body, it’s easy to stress and overthink the situation.

“Just going to try to go out there and know that it’s going to be a long match, marathon match, and play point by point, give it my all, and let’s see how that goes.”

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