Novak, no mercy

Novak Djokovic (Wikimedia Commons, foto Ivan Andreevich)

Novak Djokovic – Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3
Final, Nitto ATP Finals 2022

Hope is the thing we cling to when all seems hopeless. And facing a highly motivated Novak Djokovic on an indoor hard court (oh, let’s be honest, ANY tennis court) is such a task. The British commentators on Eurosport know this too, and in the beginning of the match they paid a lot of attention to physical pains that Djokovic was supposed to have. The TV producers played along, and showed Djokovic gripping his thighs in slow-mo and looking worried in between games. Was the big man not doing well?

Hah. Doing very well, thank you very much. Ruud played another solid match, but could not reach any break points in the match. Djokovic snatched the first set when he challenged a serve at 30-30, and won the next point. Previous opponents in this tournaments have tried to pin Ruud to the backhand corner, with little success. Djokovic managed to dictate the match doing just that, and then launch his beautiful forehands. I love how Djokovic hits through the ball with his forehand.

The second set was pretty uneventful, Djokovic seizing the initiative and Ruud scrambling well behind the baseline and beyond the doubles corridors, making a lot of balls. A worse opponent than Djokovic surely would have missed more than the great Serb did, but he was efficient throughout. Late in the match the commentators noted that CR had not had any forehand winners in the second set, and that says a lot about Djokovic’s level of dominance.

The big takeaways from CR’s game this week were his serve and backhand, in my opinion. I don’t see what Ruud could have done differently today. Could he have stood closer to the baseline and hammered away, first strike style, come what may? Of course. But that is so far from his usual game that it surely would not have worked.

If Ruud improves as much next year as he has in 2022, 2023 will be a joy for Norwegian tennis fans. Let’s collectively pinch our arms for a while; in Casper Ruud we have a Norwegian born and bred tennis player who played in 3 of the 5 biggest finals in tennis this year. Thank you, Casper Ruud! I can’t wait for what’s next.

(Why is this Norwegian guy writing in English? At a party this fall, a friend and fanatical fan suggested I should write in English in order to conquer the world or something like that. (Memories are slightly fuzzy.) I have not written English texts of any substance or length since the Clinton presidency, but will write in English for the rest of 2022 just for the fun of it and see if my numbers go through the roof. Please excuse my rusty grammar and spelling. If I run out of steam and/or receive loads of online fury from Norwegian language activists, I will switch to Norwegian and claim the blog was hijacked by forces outside my control.)

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