World no. 8 Casper Ruud reached his first Major final at Roland Garros. The Norwegian took down Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 55 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier for his career-best result. Casper became the first Norwegian in a Major final, setting the clash against a 13-time champion Rafael Nadal.
Ruud gained a boost ahead of Roland Garros after reaching the Rome Masters semi-final and winning Geneva. Casper made a shaky start in Paris and required almost four hours to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening round. Ruud passed more obstacles to find himself in the semi-final and remain on the title course.
Cilic played at a high level for his career-best result in Paris. However, it was not enough to beat the younger rival and reach the final, despite taking the opener. Ruud fired 16 aces and made the difference with the second serve that carried him over the top.
Casper Ruud beat Marin Cilic in four sets in Paris for his first Major final.
Cilic grabbed two breaks from nine opportunities, both in the opening set. Casper took 40% of the return points and turned them into five breaks to write his country’s history.
Ruud tamed his strokes nicely and fired 41 winners and 21 unforced errors. Cilic could not follow that pace and repeat what he did against Andrey Rublev in the previous round. The Croat clinched only 11 return points in sets three and four, a recipe for disaster against such a strong rival.
Marin found his A-level on the return in the second part of the opener and broke with a forehand crosscourt winner in game seven. Marin saved a break point in the next one and brought it home for 5-3. The Croat delivered another break in game nine, firing a forehand crosscourt winner to wrap up the opener in 43 minutes.
Cilic took more return points in the second set but failed to convert them into a break. Ruud broke at 15 in game three after the rival’s massive forehand error, saved a break point in the next one and moved 3-1 ahead.
Marin held at love at 3-5 to extend the set and created three break chances in the next one after Casper’s wayward backhand. Ruud denied them with winners and cracked a backhand down the line winner on a set point to take it 6-4 and level the overall score after an hour and a half.
Carried by this boost, the Norwegian made a strong start in the third set. He broke in the first game after Marin’s smash mistake and held at love in the next one with an ace. Ruud grabbed a break in the third game with a backhand crosscourt winner and fired a service winner a few minutes later for 4-0.
Marin squandered a break chance in the eighth game, and Casper landed a service winner to wrap up the set 6-2 and move closer to the finish line. The Norwegian served well in the fourth set, and the Croat failed to follow that pace.
Casper broke in the first game with a forehand return winner and landed an ace in game two to confirm the lead. Ruud broke again in game five after the rival’s loose forehand and painted a forehand down the line winner in the next one for 5-1. Casper served for the victory at 5-2 and hit an ace for a hold at love and a place in his first Major final.