Casper Ruud makes Novak Djokovic ‘vulnerable’ claim as he reveals what fuelled Monte Carlo win

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Casper Ruud declared Novak Djokovic has shown he is “vulnerable sometimes” this year after earning his first victory over the great Serbian in the semi-finals of the 2024 Monte Carlo Masters.

The Norwegian divulged that Djokovic’s shock defeat to Luca Nardi in Indian Wells last month “really motivated” him and fuelled his belief he could beat the world No 1.

Ruud downed Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the last four in Monte Carlo on Saturday to claim the biggest win of his career and secure his place in his second ATP Masters 1000 final.

The world No 10, who will climb to sixth in the world when the ATP Rankings are updated, had not previously beaten a player ranked in the top three.

Prior to the match, the 25-year-old held an 0-5 record against Djokovic and had lost all 11 sets he had played against the 24-time Grand Slam champion.

Djokovic is yet to reach a final in 2024 in a start to the season that has fallen short of the stratospheric standards he has set in his career.

The 36-year-old was beaten by Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open semi-finals in January and fell to a surprising loss to lucky loser Luca Nardi in the third round of the Indian Wells Masters in March.

In his post-match press conference, Ruud was asked if he saw some differences in Djokovic’s game given the tennis legend has not had his best start to the season.

“Yeah, a little bit. Obviously Novak is Novak. He’s human. Sometimes he doesn’t seem like it, but he is like everyone else,” said the Norwegian.

“I think what really motivated me and helped me a bit today was maybe that I thought about, you know, he lost a match in Indian Wells to Luca Nardi, and he showed there that he’s also vulnerable sometimes. Not many times in a year, but a few days here and there he’s possible to beat.

“Luckily for me, I was able to think about those thoughts in the end of the third set and take advantage of it, believing more in myself that I could beat him now than before, because he didn’t have that perfect record so far this year, and that kind of is how tennis works. Fine balance.

“If you see that someone has done really well in the beginning of the year, it’s tough to play them, because you’re expecting, wow, this guy is almost impossible to beat. But if you see that many or other players have beaten him before, you believe a bit more in yourself also.”

Ruud, who is aiming to win his first Masters 1000 title, also looked ahead to his final showdown with two-time Monte Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday.

“Tough match. Stefanos is a fantastic player on all surfaces, but clay, I think he has had more success in his career so far. He won here two times, so obviously he’s feeling comfortable here,” the three-time Grand Slam finalist assessed.

“I think he lives here in Monaco, so I guess sort of a home tournament for him. The last six, seven, eight months has not been I think perfect for him, and he fell out of the top 10 and a few things. Maybe he will be back now, I’m not sure, after this week.

“He’s been a steady top 10, top five player for many years already. He is always going to be a dangerous player and seems like he’s back in good shape. I’m going to have to expect the best version of Stefanos tomorrow.”

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