Casper Ruud may have crashed in his last two grand slam finals but the Norwegian fourth seed — who soared into a second successive French Open title clash late on Friday night — said relying on autopilot could be his best bet to succeed.
Ruud booked his spot in the final for a second consecutive year by cruising past German 22nd seed Alexander Zverev. He won 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.
Last year at the final in Roland Garros, he faced off against idol Rafael Nadal. On Sunday, he will once more aim to win a maiden major title, against Novak Djokovic, who’s aiming for a record 23rd grand slam title.
The 24-year-old has a plan to go the distance. “It’s just a matter of not thinking I ‘need’ to win this match,” Ruud, who has never beaten Djokovic in four meetings, told reporters.
“Obviously in the beginning of the tournament, that’s what you feel more and what you think about more...
“But now I’m in the final. It’s been a great two weeks... sometimes you play your best tennis when you don’t think too much. It just goes into automatic mode.
“I’m just going to try to go out there and know that it’s going to be a long match, a marathon match, and play point by point, give it my all. Let’s see how that goes.”
Ruud’s season has ebbed and flowed but he has peaked during his deep run in Paris to reach a third final in his last five grand slam tournaments.
“I think this match and the quarter final (against Holger Rune) was one of the best matches I played this year, so that’s a good confidence boost going into the final,” Ruud said. “I know I’m going to have to play similar or better if I want to have any chance.
“I’m probably playing the best tennis of the year so far. It’s been a tough one, but this sort of changes a little bit everything and how the year has been going.
“I’m going to see if I can try to use last year’s defeat in the final as a motivation... to try to play well on Sunday.”