French Open 2022 Final: Unbeaten in finals Rafael Nadal takes on first timmer Casper Ruud in quest for record 22nd Grand Slam

Nadal, who turned 36 on Friday, overcame physical ailments and a dismal period of preparation to win the Australian Open in January to take his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, breaking a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

French Open 2022 Final: Unbeaten in finals Rafael Nadal takes on first timmer Casper Ruud in quest for record 22nd Grand Slam

Rafa Nadal has never lost a French Open final. A win on Sunday against first-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud would deliver a record-extending 14th crown to the Spaniard and widen his lead in the men`s race for the most major titles.

Nadal, who turned 36 on Friday, overcame physical ailments and a dismal period of preparation to win the Australian Open in January to take his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, breaking a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

If he lifts the Musketeers` Cup again on Sunday, it will be the first time the left-hander has taken the hardcourt major in Melbourne and the Roland Garros title in the same year and would keep him in contention for a calendar Grand Slam.

Nadal enjoys near-mythical status at Roland Garros, where a statue has already been erected in his honour. But standing in his way will be the eighth-seeded Norwegian, 13 years younger and the most consistent player on claycourts in the last three years.

Ruud has led the men`s Tour since the start of the 2020 season in clay-court wins, finals and titles and is the first man from his country to make a Grand Slam singles final.

"I have a huge respect for him. First of all in terms of a friend, he has a great character," Nadal said of Ruud, who has been training at his academy in Mallorca since 2018. "He`s a great guy, and he has a great family.

"As a player, of course, I respect him a lot. He did a lot of great things the last couple of years," he said. "It`s not a surprise."

Nadal and Ruud have never played a competitive match before, but the duo have hit against each other plenty of times and the Norwegian says he has never won a practice set against his idol.

Ruud, who will rise to a career-high ranking of sixth on Monday, said he has already gone past his pre-season target of making a quarter-final at a major in 2022.

"It is amazing... He is the last player of the Big Three and the very top players in the world I have never played against," Ruud said.

"So I guess this is perfect timing and worth the wait. To finally play him in a Grand Slam final will be a special moment for me. Hopefully a little bit for him as well. "He has played so many finals, but at least he is playing a student from his academy this time. So it is going to be a fun one hopefully."

Similar to his leadup to the Australian Open, Nadal arrived at Roland Garros with persisting fitness doubts after suffering a rib stress fracture and struggling with a chronic foot injury. He won his first three rounds at the claycourt Grand Slam in straight sets but then had to survive intense four-hour battles to beat Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets and arch-rival and 2021 champion Djokovic in four.

Nadal, who would pass fellow Spaniard Andres Gimeno as the oldest Roland Garros men`s singles champion if he wins, had to dig deep again in a three-hour slugfest in the semi-final against Alexander Zverev before the German was forced to retire mid-match after injuring his ankle.
Chris Evert, who won seven of her 18 majors at Roland Garros, was unsure of Nadal`s physical condition for the final.

"It`s going to be really interesting," Eurosport expert Evert said after Nadal`s semi-final win on Friday. "Rafa today against Zverev, even though he gave such a fight, I felt like he was a step slower than normal because he has had such big matches and drawn-out matches along the way, and I wonder which Rafa is going to show up on Sunday."

Live Tv

Trending news