Casper Ruud v Alexander Zverev 2024 French Open Roland Garros Men's Semi-Final Preview as pre-tournament favourites collide

Friday, 07 June 2024 at 11:47
The second semi-final in the 2024 French Open is set for Friday and will see Casper Ruud face off against Alex de Minaur for a spot in the final with either Carlos Alcaraz or Jannik Sinner awaiting.
Both came into the tournament perhaps as the outstanding two names amid the moniker of the tournament being the most open that it has been in a number of years. Ruud and Zverev have incredible clay court prowess and both have won titles in recent weeks but who comes out on top? Our preview helps you decide.

Zverev ascends amid dark cloud

Alexander Zverev's tournament has not been easy to say the least. Albeit those on social media will say that it is of his own making. He has played this tournament with a dark cloud hanging over his head. In particular with domestic abuse allegations and a trial currently ongoing in Berlin.
Albeit with his ex-partner's testimony being shielded from the public, Zverev has often decompartmentalized his issues off court and used them to burn his fire on the court. He has done so again this tournament. He won Rome knowing full well that the pre tournament conjecture would surround the trial and everything that comes with it. But he also still went in as one of the outstanding favourites for the tournament.
Zverev has shown that it was a right assumption albeit as ever he has faced a multitude of scares and has not had it easy in his run through. He has seen off Rafael Nadal which in itself proved to be an interesting tie as the sporting world looked for him to lose. But from there on, he has also struggled against Tallon Griekspoor and Holger Rune.
In reality Griekspoor it can be said should be in this position now or Rune/De Minuar if they would've beaten the Dutchman with Zverev falling over the line and into the fourth round. Alex de Minaur was a more straight forward and put out affair for the German as he moved through in three sets.
It is also redemption for Zverev. He lost two years ago to Rafael Nadal at this very stage when it looked very likely that he was going to win the tie and reach the final. He was carted off in a wheelchair and he has only just fully recovered recently. A grotesque ankle injury but one that made him stronger and made him want it even more and that could prove a deadly combination against Ruud on Friday.
He has reached this stage though four times and never got through it whilst his opponent knows all to well about winning French Open semi-finals.

Is Ruud the favourite?

In reality, Casper Ruud should be seen as the favourite for this semi-final. He is known as a bit of a master of the surface and towelled Alexander Zverev last year at this stage. Albeit, it was a flagging Zverev who in reality is a different animal now.
But so is Ruud. He reached the last two finals against sub human clay court specialists in Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal and came up short. Very similar to a lot of players in this era, he should be a multiple time Grand Slam champion now. But he is not due to the dominance of others.
He also has a new caveat to his year at Roland Garros. He is a title holder above ATP 250 level now. He ticked off a vital box in his bottle rankings as he won Barcelona earlier in the clay court season. He defeated a certain Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final and then went on amid early losses in Rome and Madrid to finesse his game in Geneva.
A tournament he has won multiple times, he sealed it again and returned to his ATP 250 roots. Ruud has long been a real threat on this surface that doesn't get the recognition he deserves for being one of the best in the world. Even in the final if he gets there, he likely won't be the favourite. But out of all who remain, Ruud has the most prowess.
He also has the help or hindrance that is not having to play a match for a few days. Part of Ruud's psyche and make-up is that he likes to play a lot of matches and to an obscene level at times. But in this case, this has been taken out of his hands. He was meant to play Novak Djokovic, but the Serbian kingpin was struck down with a meniscus tear.
In itself this makes it difficult for him as either he will be fresh or may not find his feet and have Zverev crawling all over him. Either way, he has proven himself again on this surface. He took down Felipe Meligini Alves, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Taylor Fritz before Djokovic. Many of whom have had success this clay court season so not the easiest run through. But also one that has tested his metal which he may need against Zverev.
Head to Head wise sees Zverev technically lead with their first match being a walkover in Acapulco in 2021. But in terms of actual matches, it is 2-2. Ruud has won the last two vitally including the hammering in 2023 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. He also won in Miami in 2022 with Zverev only winning any clashes in 2021. Their meeting last year could be vital.
A true clay court masterclass from Ruud that he will look to repeat again and hopefully refreshed he can take the chances other players haven't taken against Zverev.

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