Novak Djokovic vs. Casper Ruud: Who will turn on the tide?

When Novak Djokovic gets into the tiebreak, then the 21-Grand-Slam champion can settle in. Over the years, he can miss more than a few shots, but he does know that when the tensio

n is there, then he can be calmer than his opponent.

On Saturday, he ended Taylor Fritz maiden trip to the ATP Finals 7-6(5) 7-6(6) in the semis. The American missed a couple chances, little ones. But in order to chop down Djokovic, he had to really go for it. For the most part, Fritz looked excellent. If he ever wants to win a Grand Slam, then when he practices in November and December, he will have to do something new that could turn on the tide.

Djokovic has had a difficult year, off the court. But on the court, he is wonderful again. He won Wimbledon, but because he didn’t get vaccinated for the coronavirus, he could not play at the Australian Open and the US Open.

On Friday, he edged Daniil Medvedev in three marathon sets. Then in the next day, his legs looked decent — not great— but he is an incredible shape.

“I had to fight to survive,” he said.

On Sunday, he will face Casper Ruud, who played amazing and making only a few errors. He nailed Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4. Over the past two years, he worked very hard to hone and fix his strokes. Now, not only is he is super confident, while his coaches, Christian Ruud and Toni Nadal, taught him to be more creative and stable.

The last time that Rudd and Djokovic played was at Rome, and the Serbian won in straight sets. However, in 2022, the 23-year-old advanced into three finals at Miami, Roland Garros and the US Open. He lost those but at least he got there. Now in Italy, that will be four. So go for it.

“It’s tough sometimes because things are obviously going great, but sometimes they can go almost too well,” Ruud said.