For Nadal, it’s the chance to extend his lead at the top of the Grand Slam standings with title No.22; for Ruud, who has already made history for his country, it’s the chance to put Norwegian tennis on the map in the greatest way imaginable.
The pair have never played each other on tour but know each other well. Here’s our tactical breakdown of where it might be won and lost.
Nadal will target the quicker points
For someone so used to epic battles over his career, fifth-seeded Nadal is actually most dominant when the points are relatively short, rather than the sensational longer points that often catch the eye.
For a start, that’s where the majority of points are won and lost anyway, even on clay. In rallies of 0-4 in this year’s Roland-Garros, Nadal’s won 362 and lost 307, a success rate of 54 per cent.
In rallies of 5-8, he’s most successful of all, winning 194 and losing 141, a success rate of 58 per cent. When the points go past eight shots, he’s still good, winning 112 and losing 90, at 55 per cent.
As you would expect for someone who’s in the final, Ruud also comes out on top in the three categories. He’s 513/414 in 0-4 (55 per cent), 174/156 in 5-8 (52.7 per cent) and 91/79 when it goes past eight (53.5 per cent).
The differences don’t sound much but the biggest differential is in the 5-8 category. That’s where the Nadal will look to dominate.