Key events

*Djokovic 7-6(1) 6-3 2-2 Ruud It feels like every Djokovic service-game is staging post en route to another shot at getting Ruud broken; at 30-0, he mashes a forehand winner, but his opponent needs to start going for stuff because his current tactics aren’t working. Djokovic then sticks a pair of forehands into the backhand corner, the second a winner, and he is all over this match.

Djokovic 7-6(1) 6-3 1-2 Ruud* Ruud hasn’t given up, making 30-0 with a stretch volley and drive forehand. Djokovic, though, lands a deep backhand then despatches a very nice overhead – he seems to have rediscovered the ability to play that shot – then a backhand return is too good after which a forehand winner down the line raises break point. But then another backhand is swallowed by the net – Djokovic is less than gruntled – and from there, Ruud hangs on for an admirable hold. The Serb is, though, in nearly every one of his service games now, and you assume that at some point, one’ll be confiscated.

*Djokovic 7-6(1) 6-3 1-1 Ruud Ruud’s one of a few players – Berrettini and Tistsipas are others – who I can see making loads of major finals without winning any. It just feels that when it comes to it, they’ll always face a better player able to take advantage of their relatively weak backhands, though I guess Berrettini at least has that serve. Anyhow, another easy hold for Djokovic, who looks impregnable currently.

“Allow me a word for Andy Murray, please,” offers Simon McMahon. “For him to even be mentioned in the same breath as Federer, Djokovic and Nadal is testament to his greatness, I’d argue. Maybe not statistically (though he’s about to win again on grass in the UK), but as you rightly point out, it’s not all about simply doing the math. Greatness can be measured in many ways. If I could have one sporting wish for this year, it’s that Murray somehow makes the Wimbledon final…”

I love Murray, and his three majors are worth more than, say, Jim Courier’s four, and you can’t beat sportsfolk who stand for things, especially when those things are decency and integrity.

Djokovic 7-6(1) 6-3 0-1 Ruud* Ruud knows the jig is bust, and a brace of backhands earn Djokovic 15-30. He does well to retort with an ace, though, only his second of the match, and closes out from there.

“Essentially, it’s a perishingly fine line between greatest and favourite,” reckons Matt Dony. “A compelling case could probably be made for Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to be the greatest player, but it almost doesn’t matter. The three of them have all obliterated records, destroyed all-comers, and set new standards. I will always love Federer, and I want him to be the greatest. But can I prove objectively by watertight metrics that he was ‘better’ than the other two? No. And likewise for the fans of the other two. The important thing is, between them, they’ve brought joy to pretty much ALL tennis fans. We can, however, definitely agree on specific strengths that they all enjoy. Now, any elite sportsperson has mental strength, but I can’t think of many individuals in any sport who have shown greater focus, determination, cold-blooded will-to-win than Djokovic. I don’t particularly like him (for a great number of reasons) but I espect the hell out of him. Even when he’s a set or two down, you never expect him to lose. It’s astonishing. He’ll probably win today, and he deserves to. He is, inarguably, one of the greatest. Not just tennis players. One of the greatest competitors. One of the greatest sportspeople.”

Djokovic takes the second set 6-3! He leads by two sets to love!

*Djokovic 7-6(1) 6-3 Ruud Ruud goes long for 15-0 then Djokovic conjures a lovely angle to go from backhand corner to sideline, via forehand; he’s two points away. Another decent forehand then entices Ruud to slice into the net, and when a return drops short, a backhand down the line seals the set. Novak Djokovic is a set away from becoming the most successful singles player in the men’s game. He’s good at tennis, I reckon.

Djokovic 7-6(1) 5-3 Ruud* Djokovic whooshes a forehand onto the line and Ruud can retort, netting then clumping wide from mid-court with plenty of space to hit. That’a dreadful shot at a dreadful moment, and another terrific return helps bring about another error; two set points. Ruud, though, saves both, the second with a fantastic leaping forehand winner that breaks the sideline, rishes through deuce and Djokovic will have to serve for it. I fear he shall cope.

“Responding to Bruce Millar,” begins Jonathan Wallach, “You can’t be the GOAT if you aren’t the best of your own generation. Djokovic has a winning H2H against Federer as does Nadal. We know who was better when they played each other. Aesthetics are nonsense and a red herring for people who can’t accept the truth.”

*Djokovic 7-6(1) 5-2 Ruud Ruud does well at the net, approaching with a forehand to the corner then eventually guiding a volley into an empty space. Then coming in again, a succession of telling volleys leads to Djokovic netting, and at 15-30 he’s a sniff. But an overhit backhand ruins his lead then a dumped slice raises game point, and when Ruud has a high-bouncing ball to strike from the baseline, he nets.

Djokovic 7-6(1) 4-2 Ruud* A mishit forehand pass onto the line gives Ruud 30-15, a service winner takes him to within a point of the match, and when Djokovic goes long, he narrows the gap again.

The thing about Novak (and Nadal in his pomp) is once they break back and settle into the match you just expect them to play the big points better” returns James Wilson. “Six tiebreaks won out of six for Novak in this tournament and its not like Ruud did a whole lot wrong in that first set. I guess that’s the one thing it’s impossible to teach – the killer instinct comes out for the generational talents or goats and they always play their best on those points. It’s why they win so much and so often. Ruud is playing about as well as he can and he’s excellent on clay yet every big point since the middle of the first set Novak has won. That’s no accident.”

I agree and this is why I think he’s the greatest. His consistency is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and that’s why I’d feel most comfortable with him playing to save me from death.

*Djokovic 7-6(1) 4-1 Ruud An ace down the middle, his seventh, gives Djokovic 30-0, but a forehand into the net gives Ruud a sniff. A very light sniff. A forehand winner then totally surprises him – it’s not in the corner or close, the ball passing not too far from his body – is enough for 40-15 only for a double, Djokovic’s first of the match, to keep it close. But Ruud then returns long and the second set looks like it’ll soon be over.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic serves.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic serves. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

Djokovic 7-6(1) 3-1 Ruud* Djokovic whips a forehand winner cross-court for 15-all, Ruud frozen by the devastating brilliance of it. But he then misses fractionally with another, nets, sends a return long, and the Norwegian is on the board in set two.

*Djokovic 7-6(1) 3-0 Ruud Djokovic consolidates to 15 and looks every inch like a man about to win a record 23rd major.

“Maybe Nadal peaked early (2010?), “ begins Kevin Simons, “but he won two majors as recently as last year, and he’s less than a year older than Djokovic. Any talk that he’s been unfortunate to fall between generations is nonsense. He has a losing record to Joker, hasn’t beaten him on grass in over a decade, and hasn’t taken a single set off him on a hard court since the 2013 US Open. The only reason their head to head is even close is because they have played a disproportionate number of matches, 29, on clay. Forget it. Joker is the GOAT.”

Djokovic 7-6(1) 2-0 Ruud* Trouble for Ruud who finds himself down 0-30 – Djokovic is starting to hum – and though a forehand into the corner halves the arrears, a fine forehand returns raises two break points. And Ruud saves both, Djokovic getting really close on the second with a forehand that’s fractionally wide … only for the Serb to finally nail an overhead – set up by another decent return – that gives him advantage. Ruud is struggling to land first serves now and he doesn’t here, but he does get to deuce. So Djokovic finds another fine return then directs his man to hither and yon before cleaning up, and a sliced backhand yanks Ruud to the net, a lob forces him away from it, and a drop is too good. That’s the break and this match is only going one way.

“At risk of prolonging an endless and futile argument,” begins Bruce Millar, “Roger Federer is clearly the GOAT, for two reasons:

1. There is nothing to choose between F/N/D on overall stats, with 82/3% pro wins. But Fed has won significantly more Wimbledons and US Opens that the others (go and count them). Paris is a specialist surface (and btw they endlessly tweaked Wimbledon’s grass to make it more accommodating for Nadal et al), and Melbourne just isn’t so important (I write this as a proud half-Aussie).

2. Greatness in anything has to be measured in more than maths. There is an aesthetic component, too, and Fed wins on this measure by a double bagel.

I think that concludes the debate.

As per below, I agree that greatness is measured in more than maths. But it’s also measured in more than maths and aesthetics, so I totally understand why and if some people prefer Nadal’s muscular indefatigability to Federer’s grace.

*Djokovic 7-6(1) 1-0 Ruud Ruud must start this set well, but having slogged for 81 minutes and received the cube root of nowt as a reward, it’s easier said than done. Djokovic holds to love and is 76% on first serves in, 73% on points won when that happens. This next game is a biggun.

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Off we go again.

Obviously Djokovic nips out, and Ruud does too.

Novak Djokovic takes the first set 7-6(1)

A backhand winner does the trick, and that was just fantastic. Djokovic is still to err in a breaker this tournament, and Ruud is in trouble – he can’t play much better than that against this opponent, and it’s done him no good whatsoever.

Djokovic 6-6 Ruud (6-1) Further impeccable behaviour from Djokovic gives him five set points…

Djokovic 6-6 Ruud (4-1) And he we go again, Djokovic sent out wide after a mahoosive forehand cross, stretching to send a glooooorious winner down the line for the mini-break. I don’t know how many strokes were played in that rally but it was plenty, then at the end of another epic, he wins a net exchange, and though Ruud holds his two serves, Djokovic is in pretty decent control here.

Olivier Giroud, Theo Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard are in.
Olivier Giroud, Theo Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard are in. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA

*Djokovic 6-6 Ruud Excellent from Ruud at 15-0, pushing Djokovic back with a backhand then punishing a winner down the line off the same flank. So an ace down the T follows, then a big forehand winner, and very soon after that we go into a breaker. Djokovic has won all five he’s played in this competition and in the process has yet to make an unforced error., No, that is not a misprint.

Djokovic 5-6 Ruud* Ruud nets a forehand unnecessarily and might that be a critical oversight? Er, no. At 15-all Djokovic shouts about a bounce he didn’t like, at 30-15 a forehand onto the line makes a clean winner, and while the Serb spends change of ends bitching at the umpire for hurrying him to serve, Ruud prepares to try and break for the set.

𝘼 𝙩𝙬𝙚𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙧 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙡!

Court Philippe-Chatrier gave Casper Ruud a standing ovation for this 𝙨𝙩𝙪𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙧 of a point! 👏#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/sIsoBo6G04

— Eurosport (@eurosport) June 11, 2023

*Djokovic 5-5 Ruud A massive forehand an a luscious backhand lob give Ruud 0-15 – he’s three points away from the set – and have an absolute look! Djokovic is in control of the next rally, playing a lob, but Ruud’s riposte, via tweener is exceptional, Djokovic spurns an overhead putaway, and then slips to take Ruud closer. That was a phenomenal rally and the set’s already been going 63 minutes – nor is it finished yet, Djokovic getting a little lucky on 30-all when Ruud botches a tame second serve directed at his forehand. He’s not loving the sun at his current end, but he does close out and on we go. This is maturing into a really fun contest.

“Casper’s a great guy, lovely sweatband styling, good player, all that,” emails Jeremy Boyce. “But we all know that a fit and in-form ruthless serial killer Major title-winner is going to blow all that Norwegian charm and lovely strokes out of the fjord. Casper started good and fast, but the assassin of younger title hopefuls will hunt him down…”

Djokovic 4-5 Ruud* Has the match shifted? Djokovic gets to 0-30, dictates the next point with his forehand … and then makes a mess of a forehand down the line. An ace follows, then another brutal rally, ended when Ruud sticks an impatient backhand into the net – he’s starting to lose the longuns now – and that weaker flank is being targeted. But pinned into the corner, as soon as he gets to play off his fore he prompts the error that makes deuce – Djokovic bends, hands on knees, to catch his breath – and Ruud makes advantage as his opponent slips, though the point was already gone. From there, Ruud closes out, and that’s a monumental hold.

“My two pence in response to the seeming obsession to proclaim Djokovic as the undisputed GOAT,” says Guillaume Emualliug. “Nadal’s entire career has played out in the overlap between peak Federer and peak Djokovic. And during that period he won more grand slams than either. Meanwhile Federer won a bunch of slams against the likes of Hewitt and Roddick, and Djokovic has the opportunity now to win with neither Fed nor Nadal any longer on the scene. Nadal is the GOAT!”

I agree who’s beaten who is persuasive, but it’s not conclusive. All three of the players you mention have won enough majors against each other for us to know they can do it – I’m not, say, penalising Federer, because he got to play, say, Philippoussis.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic smashes to Norway's Casper Ruud.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic smashes to Norway’s Casper Ruud. Photograph: Julien de Rosa/AFP/Getty Images

*Djokovic 4-4 Ruud A terrific forehand down the line, flat with the new balls, allows Ruud to disburse a nice volley at net; I’m really impressed by how confidently he’s attacking this match. Then, at 15-all, three shrieking forehands force Djokovic to yield – eventually – and this contest does not look like how I expected it to, at all, and as I type a deep backhand facilitates a cunning drop and with comes break point. So another sapping, compelling rally ensues, Djokovic taking no chance on an overhead, doing straight down the middle, before putting away a much harder angled volley for deuce. From there, Djokovic closes out, and that’s three games on the bounce for him.

Djokovic 3-4 Ruud* Ruud’s forehand has been the defining shot of this set and it takes him to 15-0 only for an errant backhand to hand Djokovic parity. Ans when he loses a corner-to-corner rally, pinned on that same backhand, another oversight puts him under pressure. But what’s this?! Djokovic misses a second overhead for two break points – I can barely believe what I’m seeing – except a poor forehand hands him one, he does ridiculously to stay in a ridiculous 28-stroke rally… then Ruud dumps an overhead of his own! Djokovic salutes the crowd, and that might be the key momentum shift – a very stupid thing to say at this stage of a final, but then we’re talking about a player of stupid brilliance.

Kylian Mbappe and Zlatan ibrahimovic at Roland Garros
There they are, the lads. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

*Djokovic 2-4 Ruud Djokovic is playing better now, starting to dictate points in the manner to which he and we have become accustomed. He holds to 15 but Ruud, who’s yet to take a set off him losing 2-0 in all four previous meeting, only needs tow of his own to move in front.

“Call it a naive argument but the number of tournaments on the hardcourts give Novak too much of an edge. Or any HC player to be honest. Tennis really needs to be spread across surfaces evenly. The metrics we use to measure greatness are a bit shallow.”

As I said at the top, you can’t just count stuff. But if I had to pick someone to play for my life on an unspecified surface – seems unlikely but you never know – I don’t even have to think about who I’m going for.

Djokovic 1-4 Ruud* Djokovic does indeed look for winners, but he needs Ruud to thrash wide to get a point at 30-15. Then, having worked the Norwegian from side to side, he misses his attempted backhand winner down the line and we’re told that of rallies to go beyond five shots, Ruud has won 14/17. And he secures another hold via high-kicking body-serve that facilitates a forehand winner and celebrates with gusto. He’ll love the start he’s made and rightly so, he’s playing nicely.

*Djokovic 1-3 Ruud It just seems so unlikely that a meticulous beast like Djokovic wasn’t mentally ready for the start of this match, but he knows he’s in one now and I’d expect a pretty swift uptick in performance. He holds to love, getting himself on the board, and is landing 85% of his first deliveries. I’d expect him to have a proper go art Ruud’s serve now.

Djokovic 0-3 Ruud* Ruud’s made a good start and looks confident, but he misses a simple putaway to find himself facing 15-30. Two straight points, though, take him close to a consolidation … only for him send down a double. No matter, he quickly closes out, his advantage earned thanks a fine backhand down the line backed up by a forehand winner.

“Impossible really to argue that Djokovic is not the GOAT” says Peter McLeod. “I resisted for years, but like he did to so many opponents, he wore me down. Beating Nadal at the French is what confirmed it for me, but there were signs from early on that he was gonna do it. That return from match point down against Federer in the 2011 US final. The six hours against Nadal at the 2012 Aussie. Maybe the most painful for those not of a Djokovic persuasion was Wimbledon 2019.

Admittedly at risk of sour grapes, but: it’s a little hard to separate the art from the artist isn’t it? The way he seemed to get a bit injured every time he was in trouble against Murray, before springing back to life. The antivax stuff. The hints of Serbian nationalism. Maybe that’s just me; none of Roger, Rafa or Andy seem to have beef with him.”

I can’t argue with any of that – he’s not always easy to love, and his efforts to change that don’t always recognise how love is earned.

Casper Ruud of Norway in action.
Casper Ruud of Norway in action. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA

*Djokovic 0-2 Ruud Djokovic hits such ridiculous lengths with his groundstrokes, but at 15-0 he slaps a forehand into the net … so sends down a monstrous serve to right the cosmic balance of things. But what’s this?! He spanks a forehand wide having won the chance to hit a winner, then nets, and Ruud has a break point! Not for long, taking control of the rally with a booming forehand that eventually incites an error … but again he goes wide on the forehand, so again, a chance for 2-0. Ahahahaha, a kicking serve out wide then a hellacious forehand winner down the line make deuce, but following an ace Djokovic nets. So we go backwards and forwards, a succession of game points spurned and saved – one with a gorgeous inside-out backhand return – then a forehand return persuades Djokovic to overhit, and under a lob at the net, he makes a total mess of what looks a straightforward overheard, bungling long, and Rudd in in charge!

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Djokovic 0-1 Ruud* (denotes server) I guess Ruud blew Zverev off the court on Friday, and though that’s a far easier task than the one he’s about to attempt, it tells us he’s playing well. Djokovic, though, started like a train against Alcaraz, and if he can find similar form now – on the one hand, it’s a final, on the other he might not be as excited by the matchup – it’s hard to see how this is close. But as I type that, Ruud whips through a love hold although, on the down side, I’ve just noticed his awful trainers.

Here we go, Ruud to serve. The roof is open, but with rain forecast for later it might not stay that way.

Anyone else think Ruud looks like a McGann?

djokovic and ruud
Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
The McGann brothers
Photograph: Frank Baron/The Guardian

Djokovic gets a proper roar, so here’s an absolutely mind-boggling Djokovic stat: of his last 21 major semis, he’s won 20 of them. It’s an outrage.

Here come our players!

Ruud says it’s not easy to be relaxed. There are only four Sundays on which major finals are played, one of them is today, and being involves is far from a given. He’s excited, as you would be.

Email! “I’m back!” begins James Wilson. “Novak in three, max four sets (with Ruud maybe snagging the third 7-6 or 6-4). I am a Federer fan but I think the numbers don’t lie around Djokovic – greatest male tennis player by miles and it isn’t even close. Sure, he doesn’t pass the eye test (it’s why I prefer watching the ethereal Federer play) but if you wanted a man to play for your life, and you could choose just one tennis player, one, who would stay there three hours orv three days but get the job done – you would only pick one player – Novak (Fed would shank too many backhands and Nadal is too injury-prone). The chat around Novak being too mechanical is understandable but it mostly belongs to casual fans (which is the majority, let’s face it) who don’t really understand just how remarkable it is what he is doing. To outlast, physically, a man 16 years his junior on the clay and in the heat – this is testament to the intensity of the man, his supreme fitness and conditioning and simply knowing his body, and playing well within himself, never mind stumbling over the five rounds up to the semis, where he simply goes up several gears and Carlos simply could not keep up, once this happened. He is not used to being challenged. To every single point he plays having such intensity, so much running, so many angles, for his serve, a massively improved stroke the last year or so, or how he returns, with insane precision, every single time. There are no easy points facing Djokovic in a best-of-five format – he gives you nothing. He can also raise his level at any point he wants to – Carlos was playing as well as he possibly can for two sets but the price his body paid for it was visible at 1-1 in the third set. Novak? You always felt that he could be out there another three hours, no problem, playing with a level as high, if not higher, if and when he needed to.

And we have a situation that outside the US Open nobody born after the year 1987 has won a slam. Novak, Rafa, Fed and Andy, been so dominant that two generations of tennis players have been and gone, and even Alcaraz’s generation have no idea what it is to win a Slam and beat the best of the best in order to do so – Novak has simply refused to age, and Rafa before him – they’ve been so dominant, for so long, that they are 3-0 up in the first set before they even step on to the court in matches other than with each other. Carlos admitted yesterday that he was nervous – he was visibly frustrated to see throwing the kitchen sink at Novak – only (per Roddick’s famous quote) to have him come back with the bathtub. Everything comes up – precise, deep, kisses the baseline. No free points. For a guy with seemingly no weaknesses, Carlos maybe has this one (as do all the players of his vintage) – the first 30 mins of the first set against Novak or Rafa they play entirely in their head – before any serves, forehands or backhands are hit. And THAT is Djokovic’s greatness (and Rafa’s before them). He is about to win every Slam at least three times (he has already won them all, together with Rafa, at least twice). Even with their slams being 22 apiece, Rafa simply has never been that durable – his weeks at number 1 are negligible – while Novak has been there longer than any man or woman, ever, since records began. And having reached at least seven finals at each of the four slams, it is only fitting that he should win them all, more often, than any man, in the Open era.”

I agree with most of this. I too don’t think it’s especially close, but I do think Djokovic looked to be tiring when Alcaraz did, and I didn’t think he was necessarily going to win. But his ability to handle pressure and intensity told; Alcaraz wasn’t prepared for that because how could he be?

Trying to find reasons Ruud might win, Mats clutches at the US Open final – Djokovic lost to Medvedev in straights trying to complete the calendar Grand Slam. But even if there’s an almighty choke, I doubt Ruud has the weapons to take advantage over five – he can’t just serve well and win 4, 4 and 4.

More generally, though, what a fortnight this has been. In particular, I buzzed off Karolína Muchová, who I hope has announced herself as a serious force in the women’s game. Her mix of power and guile looks built to last, in every city, in every nation
from Lake Geneva to the Finland station
and her match against Aryna Sabalenka was the best of the competition, for 24 hours, because Djokovic v Carlos Alcaraz was, until what happened happened, the best sporting contest I’ve seen this year. If I continue this post any longer, I’ll start looking forward to Wimbledon, so I’m going to end it and stay in the moment, because what a moment it is: either history or shock awaits us.

Asked to weigh-in on the goat debate, Mac equivocates, saying Nadal is best on clay, Federer grass and Djokovic hard. If you’re asking me to pick one, though, I’m going Djokovic – much as Nadal’s forehand might be the greatest shot ever and the beauty of watching Federer makes my soul sing – because all-round, I think he’s hardest to beat with fewest weaknesses.

So, what can Ruud do to win? Happily, Calvin Betton, our resident coach, messages in with yet more wisdom for me to pass off as my own: “They’re basically the same player but Novak is 20 times better at it. They both make loads of balls. Ruud’s career is absolutely mental. He’s won quite a few 250s, and has 3 slam finals now. And other than that he’s barely won a match in a 500, Masters 1000 or a Slam – and he’s been top five in the world for two years now. He gets unbelievably lucky with draws, has a terrible record against other top-10 players, and to beat Djokovic you have to be consistent and hit through him, which Ruud can’t. You look at the guys that have beaten him in big matches – Thiem, Del Po, Federer, Nadal, Wawrinka. They do it by hitting through him. Only Murray has beat him at his own game.”

Preamble

Greatness in sport is easy to detect but difficult to measure. Obviously there are numbers – 22 Grand Slams, say, or 387 weeks as world No 1 – but love is about feelings not statistics, and sport is so closely aligned with love the two are almost indivisible.

If Novak Djokovic wins today, he becomes the most successful men’s tenniser ever, out on his own on 23 majors – three ahead of Roger Federer, one ahead of Rafael Nadal – and the first to win each title thrice. Thrice! But to reduce him to those digits is to miss the experience of watching one of the most freakish athletes, competitors and intellects the world has ever seen.

Physically, Djokovic is perfect, a lean, honed, absolute specimen made of elasticated girders covered in purple velvet, but mentally he is even better. His relentless dedication to tennis – to himself – is both affirming and terrifying, his refusal to be beaten as inspirational as his desperation to win, and his ability to do the right thing, over and over and over again, is like nothing we’ve seen before. He is a genius of geometry and of spirit, a triumph of the human capacity for self-realisation and self-actualisation, and he’s nowhere near finished.

All of which adds up a tricky afternoon for Casper Ruud, who has no obvious path to victory. He does more or less what Djokovic does, just significantly less well, lacking a great weapon, unusual feel or top level that, if they click, can override what reality tells us is inevitable. But one reason we love this thing of ours is that once people start doing stuff, all sorts of other stuff can happen, and Ruud, playing his second consecutive Roland-Garros final and third Slam final in a year, will have convinced himself he’s ready to shock the world. Whatever happens from here, this is going to be epochal.

Play: 2.30pm local, 1.30pm BST




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