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Monte-Carlo Masters 2024: Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud; Preview, Head-to-Head, Prediction

Published 04/13/2024, 3:01 AM EDT

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Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud will soon trade blows on clay, their first meeting after the 2023 French Open final. The contest is the semifinal of the Monte Carlo Masters, where Ruud will likely be eyeing revenge. Djokovic, meanwhile, has not had his usual start to the season but does that mean anything at this point, does it?

Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud: Preview

Djokovic has not dropped a set in Monte Carlo so far. Roman Safiullin met him first and lost to him 6-1, 6-2, which showed that the Serbinator was in form again. Djokovic then played against Lorenzo Musetti, who had eliminated him in the 2023 Monte Carlo Masters. However, the Serb was fired up and ousted him 7-5, 6-3.

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Djokovic then met Alex De Minaur and beat the Aussie player 7-5, 6-4. The Djoker scored 2 aces and committed one double fault. He won 64% of his points on his first serve and 62% on his second serve. Winning five break points also gave him a handsome lead and also helped him win 4 games in a row.

Ruud stepped into Monte Carlo to show off his prowess on the red clay. He first beat Alejandro Tabilo 6-4, 6-2 with an astounding 81% win on first serve. Ruud then fought Hubert Hurkacz, who hit 6 aces against him. However, they were all for naught as Ruud did not let him win more than 11 receiving points and more than 1 game at a time.

He then played Ugo Humbert and showed a blazing performance in his match against the Frenchman. Humbert gave a good contest but could not match up to Ruud in the final set as the match ended 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. With 5 break points in the bag, Ruud performed well under pressure, as he only let Humbert take 2 breakpoints. While he lost his grip, he found it in the third set.

Djokovic vs Ruud: Head-to-Head

Djokovic and Ruud have played against each other five times on the ATP Tour. The Serbinator has complete dominance over the Norwegian player as he has defeated him in all of their meetings, leading 5-0.

  • 2020 Italian Open semifinal: Djokovic 7-5, 6-3
  • 2021 ATP Finals round robin: Djokovic 7-6, 6-2
  • 2022 Italian Open semifinal: Djokovic 6-4, 6-3
  • 2022 ATP Finals final: Djokovic 7-5, 6-3
  • 2023 French Open final: Djokovic 7-6, 6-3, 7-5

While Ruud has come close, he has never been able to take even one set from the Djoker. Three of their matches have been held on clay, which is Ruud’s preferred surface. However, Djokovic has won on clay as well, not giving Ruud a great future.

Prediction: Djokovic to play in the final after 9 years

The Serbinator last won the Monte Carlo Masters in 2015. Now, he has beaten every player to get to Ruud in the semifinal and will beat him for the sixth time to reach the final. Djokovic stumbled a bit this year, however, he has gained a grip on his form and will continue to his 77th Masters final.

via Reuters

Despite his mastery of clay, Ruud has never won against Djokovic on his favorite surface. He has proved himself to be the dominant player in each of their meetings.

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Although Ruud displayed a great performance against Humbert he found himself scurrying around in the second set. “It was tough. It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth. I started great and I was up 6-3, 2-0 after 50 minutes.” He further said, I was playing really good tennis and then kind of stumbled a bit. I think I lost maybe 10 points in a row at one point there, so I had to try and stop the bleeding.” 

Ruud caught himself in the third set to push ahead of the Frenchman. Losing grip on the game in such a manner will be punished violently by Djokovic. If he wants to win his first match against the Serbinator, he will have to ensure complete focus from the start. The smallest slip-up can cause him defeat. 

While he won against Minaur, Djokovic also floundered for a win in the second set. “But he said at the net it was ugly. The second set I think it was. We didn’t play at the high level and made a lot of unforced errors, him and I, and a lot of breaks of serve. It is kind of expected on clay but maybe not this many,” Djokovic said after the match. Although he couldn’t perform his best, it was enough to send Minaur packing.

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USA Today via Reuters

Aside from his first match, Ruud has not managed a great service game after facing Tabilo. It is another weakness that will be thoroughly exploited by Djokovic, who is one of the best returners on the Tour. The cards are completely stacked against Ruud as Djokovic seems to be back to the form which helped him win many titles. 

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Written by:

Ripunjay Gaba

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Ripunjay Gaba, a tennis enthusiast-turned-journalist at EssentiallySports, found his way from freelance sports journalism to the publishing house in ES. Here, his writing canvas encompasses the game specifics while finding poetic resonance in covering major sporting events. Ripunjay, a perpetual upgrader, uses avid reading to bring varied flavor to his Tennis reporting.
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Edited by:

Jayant Chhabra