The Spaniard has been struggling with a recurring foot injury since a week before the French Open started. But he’s shown no signs of struggling with it nor has he slowed down as he’s stormed his way to a 14th French Open final. His first three matches were straight-forward straight-sets wins, and then he turned on the afterburners towards the end of the match against Felix Auger-Aliassime to win it in five. Against World No 1 Novak Djokovic, he was at his best. Things might have been different in the semi-final against the gritty Alexander Zverev, but for the German’s unfortunate nasty tumble. Now the 36-year-old is one win away from becoming the oldest French Open winner.
But he has to beat ‘a student’ today. Casper Ruud has been training at the Rafa Nadal Academy since September 2018 and has risen up the ranking ladder ever since. He’s a keen clay-courter with a big, big forehand. But the World No 8 has never been this far in a Grand Slam before, and he’s coming against a player who has won 21 Majors. Ruud will have to play out of his skin. It’s improbable, but not impossible.