Casper Ruud made it back-to-back French Open final appearances after cruising to a 6-3 6-4 6-0 win over Alexander Zverev.
Ruud secured his place in the Roland-Garros showpiece by dominating Zverev in all departments.
For the German to even be in the last four was a notable achievement given the horror ankle injury he suffered last year, but he had no answers to the quality clay-court game of Ruud.
“I went out there and tried to play without thinking too much,” Ruud said. “It’s towards the end of the tournament, trying to play without pressure and emotion.
“I played really well from the beginning to the last point, and everything was going my way. I’m very happy to win this match.”
Ruud made a superb start, doing particularly well to get a handle on the big Zverev serve.
The Ruud forehand is one of the most potent weapons in the men’s game, and it propelled him to the opening set in 49 minutes.
Inspired Ruud takes opening set against Zverev in semi-final
Zverev grew into the contest as the first set progressed, and was more competitive in the second.
The German worked two break points in the fourth game, but passed up the opportunity – the second of which was when he played a tame drop shot into the net – and Ruud’s blistering forehand got the Norwegian out of trouble.
Zverev was made to pay a heavy price for failing to take his opportunities, as Ruud broke to love in the seventh game – with his opponent looking jaded when firing a couple of wild backhands off target.
Ruud’s pressure from the baseline was relentless, and he offered Zverev something else to ponder when serve-volleying to consolidate his break.
The 24-year-old was rock solid under the pressure of serving for the second set, as he closed it out without any fuss.
Zverev had the look of a man struggling for answers and was broken meekly at the start of the third set. He was seemingly scared of the Ruud forehand, as he went for a high-tariff shot into a small area to offer a break point and then sent a volley wildly over the baseline.
Ruud lent on his forehand in his opening service game of the third set, as he produced a couple of big blows to get himself out of trouble from 30-all.
‘I’m trying to play without pressure’ says Ruud after his semi-final win
Zverev’s hopes of a fightback were extinguished when he coughed up his first double fault of the contest to hand Ruud a second break of serve, and the Norwegian raced through the set in 29 minutes.
Looking ahead to the meeting with Djokovic, Ruud said: “It’s going to be tough; last year it was against Rafa, this time it’s against Novak. They’re two of the toughest players in history, so I’m going to be the underdog, like today, playing without too much emotion, trying to enjoy it, and smiling as much as I can.
“Novak is trying to be the greatest – going for his 23rd as I go for my first. It’s a big difference, but I hope we can have a good match.”
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