“I can hopefully one day tell my grandkids that I played Rafa Nadal on Chatrier in the finals” – Casper Ruud

Playing in his first Grand Slam final, 23-year-old Casper Ruud learnt to make best use of the opportunities presented to him

Spain's Rafael Nadal and Norway's Casper Ruud pose with trophies after the men's singles final at Roland Garros 2022 Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Norway’s Casper Ruud pose with trophies after the men’s singles final at Roland Garros 2022 Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Casper Ruud grew up watching Rafael Nadal win each of his Roland-Garros titles. On Sunday, the Norwegian got the best seat in the house to watch the Spaniard pick up a 14th French Open title – right across the net against the Spaniard on court Philippe Chatrier.

Ruud went down to Nadal in the final in straight sets and while he admitted that he would have liked to play a closer match, Ruud said he will enjoy his efforts through the fortnight for a long time and probably tell his grandkids about it someday.

“This match will be something I will probably remember for the rest of my career. There are certain moments I think for everyone’s career that you’ll remember more than others, so this one will be high up on my list, biggest match I ever played. Like I have said many times before, he’s a player I have watched on TV for the last 16, 17 years. So to be there myself and face him, it’s a bit of a challenge as well but a very enjoyable one,” Ruud said.

“Of course I wish I could make the match closer and all these things, but at the end of the day I can hopefully one day tell my grandkids that I played Rafa Nadal on Chatrier in the final, and they will probably say, Wow, did you? I will say Yes. I’m probably going to enjoy this moment for a long time.”

“In the end I was the better player in the second half of the draw and took care of my chances” – Casper Ruud

Casper Ruud, aged 23, is now up to No 6 in the world and said the fortnight taught him to make best use of the opportunities presented to him, with most of the heavy hitters, including Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Carlos Alcaraz being in the other half of the draw.

“I think what I can say was that I was able to do well these two weeks was to kind of take care of the chances I got and see the opportunity. Because when the draw was made, everyone was talking about upper side of the draw and how sort of open the second half could be comparing to like the big names who were on the top draw. Rafa, of course, Novak, Zverev, and Alcaraz were all placed in the top part,” he said.

“In the other part there were no one who had won here obviously, I think. I kind of realized early this is a good chance to go maybe far if I’m playing well and that there can be chances for me. I was able to take care of those chances. Like every best-of-five set match I didn’t play my greatest tennis every single point of the tournament but I was able to win the most important ones and realizing that the best-of-five sets matches can be very long, can be sort of a marathon. And in the end I was the better player in the second half of the draw and took care of my chances. So that’s something that I think I will learn from, take with me from this experience, and realizing also that I have been able to keep my body well, not too many pains or injuries these two weeks and playing quite long matches. So that’s also a good sign for me. Sometimes in the Grand Slams I have felt like I have not been able to recover too well on the off days. So the days off I have been able to take care of them better and feeling fit all week,” Casper Ruud added.

Ruud also revealed the two things that left a major imprint on his mind during the final – the first being Nadal’s winning shot on match point and the other, receiving the trophy from tennis legend Billie Jean King.

“I think match points are always the most memorable one, and he finished the match in style with a winner down the line. And seeing the ball drop on the line, that’s what I can remember the most for now. And of course stepping into the court. Something that’s a bit funny when he plays, when the announcer does the intro and he goes and of course tells all the times he has won the tournament, it never stops, it seems like. That takes like half a minute just to say all the years. I think that is something that is also something I will remember. It Was also special moment to be handed the trophy by Billie Jean King, she’s a legend of the sport. It was nice to meet her. I never met her. So to do it there on the podium, or in the stands, it was a nice feeling, or a good experience.”

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