world no. 8 Casper Ruud reached his first Major final at Roland Garros. The Norwegian defeated Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 55 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier for the best result of his career. Casper became the first Norwegian in a Major final, setting up the clash against 13-time champion Rafael Nadal.
Ruud got a boost ahead of Roland Garros after reaching the Rome Masters semifinal and winning Geneva. Casper got off to a shaky start in Paris and needed almost four hours to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round. Ruud overcame more obstacles to find himself in the semi-final and remain in the title race.
Cilic played at a high level to get the best result of his career in Paris. However, he was not enough to beat the younger rival and reach the final, despite taking the first goal. Ruud fired 16 aces and made the difference with the second serve that took him over the top.
Casper Ruud beat Marin Cilic in four sets in Paris for his first Major final.
Cilic converted two breaks from nine chances, both in the first set. Casper took 40% of the return points and turned them into five breaks to write the history of his country.
Ruud tamed his shots very well and shot 41 winners and 21 unforced errors. Cilic couldn’t keep up with that pace and repeat what he did against Andrey Rublev in the previous round. The Croat managed just 11 return points in sets three and four, a recipe for disaster against such a strong opponent.
Marin found his A-level on the return in the second half of the opener and broke with a forehand cross winner in game seven. Marín saved a break point in the next and brought it home for 5-3. The Croat delivered another break in game nine, firing a forehand cross winner to close out the opener on 43 minutes.
Cilic took more return points in the second set, but failed to convert them into a break. Ruud broke at 15 in the third game after the opponent’s huge forehand error, saved a break point in the next and moved 3-1 ahead.
Marin held at love at 3-5 to extend the set and created three break chances in the next after Casper’s wayward backhand. Ruud denied them with winners and fired a backhand down the line winner on set point to make it 6-4 and level the overall score after an hour and a half.
Carried by this momentum, the Norwegian made a strong start in the third set. He broke in the first game after Marin’s big mistake and held a love in the next game with an ace. Ruud grabbed a break in the third game with a backhand cross winner and fired a serve winner a few minutes later to make it 4-0.
Marin blew a break chance in the eighth game, and Casper hit a service winner to close out the set 6-2 and move closer to the finish line. The Norwegian served well in the fourth set and the Croatian failed to keep up with that pace.
Casper broke in the first game with a forehand winner and landed an ace in the second game to confirm the lead. Ruud broke again in game five after a loose forehand from the opponent and painted a forehand down the line winner in the next for 5-1. Casper served for the win at 5-2 and hit an ace to hold nil and a place in his first Major final.