After facing a shock defeat in the Monte-Carlo Masters quarterfinal on Friday, Rafael Nadal says he would like Casper Ruud to win the title.
Nadal played an uncharacteristically flawed match on clay against Andrey Rublev, and was overpowered by the Russian, 6-2,4-6,6-2.
Rublev will now face Norwegian youngster Casper Ruud, who has had an impressive run in Monte-Carlo beating three seeded players en route to his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.
Ruud, who trains at the at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, will be hoping to secure his first Masters final, and he has the support of Nadal himself.
“It’s a tough match for both of them,” said Nadal.
“Casper is a great player. Especially on this surface, he’s one of the best players in the world. [It] will be a tough battle tomorrow.
“I don’t see a clear favourite. I think both of them can win. Casper is playing great… [It] will be nice that somebody from the academy [gets to] the final of Monte-Carlo and wins it.”
Meanwhile Ruud says facing Rublev will be one of the toughest challenges of his career so far.
“Tomorrow there has to be one winner of the match, and hopefully it can be me,” said Ruud.
“I will try to relax and get a lot of energy for tomorrow and think that it’s a little bit now or never.
“I just have to prepare well, like it’s the toughest challenge of my career so far. I’m sure it will be. But I’ve gained good confidence from this week. I’ve beaten good players. I have to try to find a way to believe that I can win.”
“In Rome, I faced the World No. 1 Djokovic. He is one of the toughest opponents you can have on the Tour.
Tomorrow will be no different. [It’ll be] Rublev, who has won the most ATP Tour matches this year.”
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