– The biggest challenge in our sport – VG

- The biggest challenge in our sport - VG
22 or 1? Rafael Nadal could win his 22nd Grand Slam title on Sunday. Casper Rudd can win his first match.

Paris/Oslo (VG) Rafael Nadal (36) has played 13 French Open finals and won all of them. He played 114 matches in the tournament – and lost three times.

On Sunday, Casper Rudd (23) will try to beat his idol in the French Open final.

In 2005, Rafael Nadal played the French Open for the first time. Two days after reaching the age of nineteen, he won the final match against Argentine Mariano Puerta and achieved his first victory in a Grand Slam tournament.

After 17 years, Nadal has become the most successful player in the Grand Slam tournament with 21 titles, as many as 13 of them made it to the cobblestones in Paris.

During the 18 editions of the French Open (including this year), Nadal won 111 out of 114 matches, never losing a final.

It’s a totally extreme statistic and I personally don’t think it will be defeated. If I have to beat it, I’ll win every year until I’m 36. It’s a bit unrealistic to think this way. It’s quite extreme, Casper Rudd said at the press conference after it became clear that Rudd will meet Nadal in the final on Sunday.

Rudd says he should try to avoid thinking about Nadal’s stats.

– I’ll think he might have more pressure than me. I will try to play freely, enjoy the moment, know that I will share the path with one of the greatest legends in the sport and try to play for the grand slam titles, says the Norwegian.

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Rudd says playing against Rafa in the French Open final is probably the biggest challenge you can face in our sport.

Mats Wellander himself has won the French Open three times as a player. The Swede now works as a Discovery expert, and believes a long battle will be the key to Rudd.

He (Casper Rudd) should make it cross-country ski distance race. Five hours is long. For Rafa at age 36. The plan should be: “I’m 23, I’m 36 and I’m going to see how long you can hold on,” Wellander says in Eurosports studio.

Nadal beat Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on Friday – after the German withdrew through injury at the end of the second set:

The 23-year-old Norwegian says he “maybe everyone watched” Nadal’s French Open final, and Nadal’s final victory in 2005 created a lifelong fan.

– When he first won he was 19, so I was 5-6 years old and I was watching him at home in the living room. That was when I became a fan. He had long hair, he played with jerseys, he was strong and played fun tennis, I think. Then I understood more about how he became legendary and is still in his career, says Rudd, adding that father and coach Christian Rudd is likely the key person behind tennis’s transformation into Rudd’s sport.

17 years ago: Rafael Nadal won his first French Open in 2005.

Sunday’s match will be the first time the two players will play against each other in a sorting match. Rudd says he’s played a few training sets together, but Nadal had a clear advantage there.

– He mostly won. There were some regular groups, but it was always in his favour. But that’s because we play at the academy and I want to be nice to him,” Rudd says with a big smile.

On Sunday, there is no doubt – then there is seriousness on the gravel in Paris.

Najuma Ojukwu

Najuma Ojukwu

"Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner."

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