Rafael Nadal vs. Casper Ruud: Career Stats and Prediction for 2022 Men's Final

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIJune 5, 2022

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during the men's singles semifinal match against Alexander Zverev of Germany at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, June 3, 2022. (Photo by Meng Dingbo/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

No surprise here: Rafael Nadal has reached the men's singles final at the French Open and is well-positioned to win the tournament title. On Sunday, the 36-year-old Spaniard will have an opportunity to win the French Open for the 14th time. His 13 previous victories at the event all came from 2005 to 2020.

If Nadal isn't soon celebrating another title win at Stade Roland Garros, it'll be because of a huge upset. Not only is Nadal the most decorated men's tennis player of all time, having won a record 21 Grand Slam titles, but his final opponent is Casper Ruud, an inexperienced 23-year-old from Norway.

Ruud will be making his first appearance in a Grand Slam final. In his 13 prior showings at major tournaments, he had never made it past the fourth round. And he hadn't made it past the third round in his four previous French Open appearances.

Here's everything you need to know heading into Sunday's French Open men's singles final.

Men's Singles Final Info

Date: Sunday, June 5

Start Time: 9 a.m. ET


Live Stream: Peacock

Nadal vs. Ruud Stats

Head-to-Head: No previous meetings

Season Record: Nadal 29-3; Ruud 24-9

Grand Slam Final Record: Nadal 21-8; Ruud 0-0

Preview, Prediction

Let's start by taking a look back at how both Nadal and Ruud have made it to this point.

Nadal, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, faced some challenges in the top half of the bracket. However, it was clear from the start that his biggest test would be a probable quarterfinal matchup against Novak Djokovic, the defending French Open champion and No. 1 seed.

After winning each of his first three matches at Roland Garros in straight sets, Nadal pulled out a five-set victory over No. 9-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round, setting the stage for a marquee matchup against Djokovic.

Although Djokovic played some competitive sets, that quarterfinal match didn't need to go the distance. Nadal won 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) to move on to the semis, where he would face No. 3-seeded Alexander Zverev.

It wasn't a sure thing that Nadal would beat Zverev, who continues to seek his first Grand Slam title. But an ankle injury prevented Zverev from making it past the second set, as Nadal led 7-6 (10-8), 6-6, before Zverev retired from the match.

Now, Nadal gets an opportunity to win yet another French Open title and extend his advantage on the all-time Grand Slam title leaderboard to two over Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Ruud knows he's going to face a huge challenge in going up against Nadal, especially on a clay court.

"I will need to play my best tennis ever," Ruud said, per Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press. "But I still have to believe that I can do it."

So far, Ruud has had an impressive showing at Roland Garros. Over the past four rounds, he's defeated three seeded players: No. 32 Lorenzo Sonego in the third round, No. 12 Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth and No. 20 Marin Cilic in the semifinals.

Ruud dropped the first set to Cilic before rallying back to win three straight for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory. It was a huge win for Ruud, setting him up for the biggest match of his tennis career thus far.

Will Nadal win as expected? Or could Ruud pull off the upset in Paris?

The prediction here is that Nadal will cruise to a three-set victory. Ruud has played well, and he could be in store for a strong career. But he's not yet at a level capable of taking down Nadal, especially at the venue where Nadal has dominated for nearly two decades.

Nadal will pick up another French Open title. It could be his last, or he could be right back here again next year.

Prediction: Nadal wins in three straight sets