Copy of 2022-06-03T195146Z_1751683476_UP1EI631J680X_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-FRENCHOPEN-1654328227954
Norway's Casper Ruud reacts during his semi final match against Croatia's Marin Cilic. Image Credit: REUTERS

Paris: As a child Casper Ruud watched a lot of tennis on television, dreaming one day of playing a Grand Slam final. The Norwegian will now have something to brag about after setting up a final clash with 13-time French Open champion Rafa Nadal.

The 23-year-old Ruud was confident he could count all the finals that Nadal has played at Roland Garros and the opponents the Spaniard defeated during his record haul.

“It’s gonna be, yeah, amazing to be there myself when you have seen ... all the guys who have played him in a final,” Ruud told reporters after defeating Marin Cilic in the semi-finals.

'Greatest challenge'

“So to be a part of that group myself is something I can always brag about after my career. I will of course give it a shot at the title, and would be nicer to be able to brag about the title as well after my career.”

It will be a first career meeting for Ruud against the record 21-time Grand Slam winner Nadal, at whose academy he often hones his game.

Playing the Spaniard in a Roland Garros final, where Nadal is 13-0 in the title round, is the “greatest challenge” in the sport for Ruud and he accepts that it might seem like an impossible task to win tomorrow.

“I’m just going to try to enjoy it,” he said.

“I will be the underdog, and I will try to, tonight and tomorrow night dream about great winners and unbelievable rallies, because that’s what it’s going to take if I want to have any chance, and I will need to play my best tennis ever.

“But I still have to believe that I can do it.”

With his victory against Cilic, Ruud became the first Norwegian man to become a Grand Slam singles finalist and he hoped it could help build interest for the sport back in his country.

Tennis on TV

One of the most consistent performers on claycourts in the last three season, Ruud said his target at the beginning of the 2022 season was just making the quarter-finals at majors.

“The thing is I watched so much tennis on TV when I was young that it sometimes for me felt unrealistic to be there myself because I saw how good the guys were playing on TV,” he said.

“When you are a kid, you’re just thinking, ‘Oh, it would be fun to be on TV myself one day playing’.

“I was not really picturing myself too much, but of course it’s always like been a dream and always been like up there in my thoughts. But not really, haven’t thought too much like how realistic it is before.”