Student Casper Ruud is all set to meet his mentor Rafael Nadal in the French Open 2022 men's singles final on Sunday (June 5) at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris.
Ruud was not only a student at the Rafael Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca, the Norwegian was also a fan of the record grand slam winner as he recalls crying in front of the television as a kid when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated the Spaniard in the first round of 2008 Australian Open.
In 2018, Rudd got the opportunity to train at the Academy named after the Spanish great as an up-and-coming 19-year-old. The rising star called that a "childhood dream [turned] reality".
Now, Ruud will get to live another dream as he faces his childhood idol and mentor Nadal for the first time on Court Philippe-Chatrier for a chance to lift the Roland Garros.
Ruud, who has 30 wins in 39 matches he has played in 2022, is just one short of his 150th career victory with 95 of his wins coming on his happy hunting ground - Clay Court. So, the King of Clay, who has won 13 titles, is definitely going to face a different challenge when he faces Ruud.
History-making 23-year-old Ruud became the first Norwegian to reach a grand slam final after he came from a set down (3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2) to go past Marin Cilic, who had ousted Russian duo and top 10 seeds Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev.
In earlier rounds, Ruud first had to overcome Tsonga, then eased past Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori in the second round before battling for five sets in the third round against Italy's Lorenzo Sonego and followed that with a victory over Hubert Hurkacz in four sets.
In the quarterfinal, Ruud defeated 19-year-old Holger Rune, who had knocked out one of the tournament favourites Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round.
Here is some interesting information about Ruud:
► Made Grand Slam debut in 2018.
► Ruud was the first Norwegian to break into Top 10.
► Ruud was also the first Norwegian to win an ATP Tour title, reach an ATP Masters 1000 final and qualify for Nitto ATP Finals.
► Has won 8 of 11 finals.
► Ruud has won eight titles on tour - seven of them on clay and two of them this year.
► Has won Argentina Open (2020 & 2022), Geneva Open (2021 and 2022), Swiss Open (2021), Austrian Open Kitzbuhel (2021) Swedish Open (2021) and San Diego Open (2021).
► Made a clean sweep of three Clay Court titles in July 2021.
► Ruud (Bastad, Gstaad and Kitzbuhel) in 2021 became the first player since Murray in 2011 (Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai) to win 3 titles in 3 weeks.