Casper Ruud exclusive: Rafael Nadal could produce ‘ridiculous level’ to win French Open yet again


Casper Ruud believes that Rafael Nadal could once again be the man to beat at the French Open when the second Grand Slam of the season gets underway in May.

Nadal has 14 titles at Roland-Garros to his name, and while he has made it clear he is reducing the amount of tennis he will be playing to stay fresh and manage his conditioning, nobody expects the 36-year-old to easily let go of the trophy he won as recently as last year.

Speaking on Ruud Talk to Dominic Thiem, Ruud said: “I don’t know, I still feel like if Dominic or I shouldn’t root for ourselves, I think we both can say that we wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa came up with some ridiculous level once again.

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“It wouldn’t surprise me because we will probably use these weeks and these months as he is preparing for exactly, you know, Roland-Garros.

“You know, it doesn’t matter if he loses in Monte Carlo or if he loses in Rome or Madrid. The only thing that is probably on his mind these days is just to be fit, be healthy and be ready for Roland-Garros.”

Ruud was a losing finalist to Nadal at the French Open last year, and also the runner-up at the US Open in 2022. While he has nine ATP ranking titles to his name so far in his career, he has yet to win a Grand Slam.

Thiem secured the 2020 US Open title, and the Austrian told Ruud that he hoped he could join him in the club of Grand Slam winners.

He said: “Every Grand Slam final is a great experience, and if you could do it twice, especially on two different surfaces, in two different Slams, you can do it definitely more times.

“Then you have the experience from two finals before you go into the match different. At one point, you are going to make it.

“I really hope that you can make it because you deserve it 100% and I’m cheering for you. Definitely. If it’s not against me, I’m cheering for you.”

Thiem has also lost in the finals of the French Open and the Australian Open, and Ruud quizzed him on who was the toughest opponent out of Nadal in France or Djokovic in Australia.

The Austrian was asked which re-match he would take, if it were offered.

He replied: “Yeah, it’s a very good question. It’s both their most successful tournaments by far. But if I could choose one re-match, I would still choose the 2019 Roland-Garros final, maybe with a slightly different preparation, with all the rain delays.

“I played four days in a row before the final, and then, I would do some things differently, especially after that second set.

“Yeah, some things are coming to my mind – and it’s clay. It’s the tournament maybe I love the most, I played my best tennis in, and probably I would choose this one.”

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Stream the 2023 French Open live on discovery+, the Eurosport app and at

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