The Norwegian made history for his country, and hopes to take lessons from his trip to the final in Paris. By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday June 6 2022

Casper Ruud went through trial by fire on Sunday in Paris. Not only was it his first ever match against King of Clay Nadal, the Norwegian had to do it in a final at Roland-Garros, where Nadal has never lost.

Tennis Express

Though he was blitzed, 6-3, 6-3, 6-0, Ruud hopes to learn from the experience.

“It was tough for me to really know where I should play the ball because from both sides he has – many people have said that he kind of has two forehands because his backhand is also strong, even though it's maybe a little bit weaker, Ruud said, adding: “I didn't know exactly where to play there in the end and he made me run around the court too much. When you are playing defensive against Rafa on clay, he will eat you alive.”

Still, Ruud can hold his head high after becoming the first Norwegian to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, semifinal and final at Roland-Garros. As the ATP’s leading clay-court winner since the start of 2020, he is set up for a bright future at the world’s biggest clay-court tournament.

And the experience of playing the final should help him massively in the years to come.

“It was a little bit, honestly, a bit tough to find myself too comfortable in the situation in the beginning, but as the match went on, I tended to feel a little bit better and I could calm down and breathe out a little bit more. But it was challenging because you are playing him, the most winning-slam player ever, and on this court in the final it's not too easy.”

The Norwegian had plenty of praise for Nadal after the final.

“I didn’t have what it takes today, to beat Rafa in the final at Roland-Garros,” he said. “Like I said coming into this match it’s the toughest challenge we have in the sport, to beat him here at Roland-Garros. Even though you like to think he’s getting older and you try to think maybe this is the chance or this is the day, he showed once again why he has won so many times and he really stepped up there in the second and third set and outplayed me for sure.”

Ruud will head back to the drawing board, and he hopes to use the experience as motivation and as a critical learning experience in his development.

“So I know what it takes to win here now, I guess, and I will of course work on a lot of things in my game, and it gives me just a small taste of what hopefully can be happening more times in my career, so it gives me of course a lot of motivation,” he said. “To play Rafa at Roland-Garros is a dream in itself and to do it in a final is something I will remember for the rest of my life. He’s a true champion, a true legend of the sport, and to have shared a court with him at least once and do it here in this situation is special”