It’s the King of Clay against a 23-year-old uber fit Norwegian. Nadal has been the one to emerge from the Novak-Alcaraz-Rafa brutal section and Casper Ruud came through the “this is anyone’s guess” bottom half of the draw. This is the first Slam final for Ruud, it will be Nadal’s 30th. There’s a 13-year age gap, over the course of 5 sets could it make a difference?
Why Rafa will win
Where to begin? This court is Rafa’s, the man from Mallorca has won 13 French Open’s on it, the vastness allows him to turn defense into soul crushing forehands. When it mattered most against Novak in the 4th set he upped the level. He has the form, history and confidence to win what would be a mind bending 22nd Grand Slam, plus he’s up against a player with the weight of Norway on his back. All signs point to a Rafa win.
Why Ruud will win
The only way I see this, as a remote possibility, is if Rafa wilts physically, he has spent almost 12 hours on court in the last 3 rounds. Ruud has enough firepower to win his share of short points but the big key for him is if he makes the Spaniard work hard on his serve which means he’ll have to run, lots, because once Rafa has you out of position the point is done. This will test Ruud beyond what he’s ever experienced on a tennis court, but the longer this match goes at least he is a chance.
The fact they’ve never played helps Rafa, as nobody has the lefty spins/speeds/angles as he does, which makes the start of this match crucial for Casper. The quicker he can settle in he can avoid getting bludgeoned by Rafa’s power and the more likely he can take an early set. I’m looking for ways to pick an upset but Rafa on this court is virtually invincible.
Nadal in 4 sets.