Casper Ruud vs. Novak Djokovic: ATP Finals title decider – live | ATP World Tour Finals
Back to Ruud, at 23, he has plenty of time to improve. It’s just hard to see how weapons develop that allow him to win endgames against players who already own them.
On the other hand…
Calvin Betton, our resident coachsends emails with his thoughts: “It’s a boring game. Ruud is basically a C-list Djokovic. Excellent competition, balls a lot, moves well. But Djokovic is better in every aspect, and I can’t see him not winning.”
Also in progress…
Ruud strikes me as one of those players who will never be good enough to win a slam because there will always be someone better – whether it’s someone like Alcaraz, so someone with more ability, or someone random who happens to find their life form at the right time.
So what the hell can Ruud do to beat Djokovic? Euh, I do not know. I guess he could take the Stan approach against Nadal, who attacks everything and hopes it’s his day. Or, conversely, Djokovic is mostly a defensive payer, so if Ruud picks it all up and tries to play with his backhand, maybe it works. Or maybe not.
I don’t want to skip ahead, people, but could we get to this point? You know the one I mean because we always thought we’d get there eventually and it’s been teased for what feels like a decade, so: Did Novak Djokovic outlive the other two members of the big three? And if he did, will he spend the next two years beating everyone and everything?
You can’t say it didn’t work for it. I remember hearing a few years ago that every second – waiting for a cab, after a meal, talking on the phone – he stretched to stay flexible. That’s how it means that even at 36, I would still support him to win any game.
Which doesn’t mean we should write off Rafael Nadal, who has to return like a conservative administration has to turn around. He probably has at least one more French Open in him, but it’s hard to see him winning any other major tournaments and it wasn’t particularly surprising that he didn’t escape the group in this tournament.
But that’s only half the story. As worthy as Casper Ruud – and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Taylor Fritz, and Andrey Rublev and Carlos Alcaraz and even Daniil Medvedev – are, none of them will ever be the greatest player we’ve ever seen, which is the standard that Djokovic has been competing against for an eon past.
Which isn’t to say Ruud, currently 0-3 head-to-head, can’t win tonight – he can. But for that to happen, he has to produce near his best tennis, while Djokovic has to produce near his worst – and both men know that. We will see.
Start: 7:00 p.m. local, 6:00 p.m. GMT