Casper Ruud v Novak Djokovic: ATP Finals title decider live


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Theguardian

Back to Ruud, at 23 he’s got lots of time to improve. It’s just hard to see how develops the weapons that mean he can win finals against players that already have them.

Casper Ruud has reached the final in four of the seven biggest events in the calendar this year: French Open, US Open, ATP Finals, Miami. A pretty incredible achievement for someone who started the season without a single slam QF to his name.

Calvin Betton, our resident coach , emails in with his thoughts: “It’s a dull match up. Ruud is basically a C-list Djokovic. Competes great, makes a lot of balls, moves well. But Djokovic is better at every aspect, and I can’t see him not winning.”

Ruud strikes me as one of those players who’ll never be quite good enough to win a slam, because there’ll always be someone better – whether someone like Alcaraz, so someone with more ability, or someone random who happens to find the form of their life at the right time.

So, what on earth can Ruud do to beat Djokovic? Er, I don’t know. I guess he could follow the Stan v Nadal approach, which is attacking everything and hoping it’s his day. Or, conversely, Djokovic is principally a defensive payer, so if Ruud just gets everything back and tries to play to his backhand, maybe that works. Or maybe not.

I don’t want to get previous, people, but might we be at that point? You know the one I mean because we always suspected we’d get to to it eventually and it’s been teased for what seems like a decade, so: has Novak Djokovic outlasted the other two members of the big three? And if he has, is he going to spend the next couple of years monstering everyone and everything?

You can’t say he hasn’t worked for it. I remember hearing, quite some years ago, that every spare second – waiting for a cab, after a meal, speaking on the phone – he stretches to keep himself supple. It’s drive like that that means even at 36, I’d still back him to win any match.

Which isn’t to say we should write-off Rafael Nadal, who is to comebacks as a Tory administration is to U-turns. He’s probably got at least one more French Open in him, but it’s hard to see him taking any other majors and it wasn’t especially surprising that he didn’t escape the group in this tournament.

But that’s only the half of things. Worthy though Casper Ruud – and St…

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