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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday June 4, 2024

Paris – Casper Ruud knows a great deal about the character and abilities of Novak Djokovic, and because of that the Norwegian will never underestimate the recovery powers of his quarterfinal opponent.

Tennis Express

The two-time Roland-Garros finalist says he will not overthink Djokovic’s current injury status, or the fact that the 24-time major champion has needed over nine hours to get through his last two rounds in Paris when they meet in the quarterfinals in what will be a rematch of last year’s final in Paris.

“I don't expect him to surrender at all. I have to expect him to be fresh, ready and that it's going to be a tough match,” Ruud said on Monday after taking out American Taylor Fritz in four sets.

“I'm just going to expect him to be fresh, ready in two days. Not think too much if he played 9 hours, 12 hours, or 4 hours in the last couple of days. You know, Novak is Novak. He's going to be ready no matter what, or at least he's going to do his best to be ready. Typically he does it really well.”

Ruud says he will try to use the current situation to boost his belief, however.

“I'm going to try to think that I'm 25; he's 37. Maybe doesn't mean too much because he's still in physically great shape, but he's played a few hours more than me on the way here, and hopefully my matches leading up to it has not been as long as his and I will try if there is any possibility to take advantage of that.”

Novak Second Best Clay Courter of All-Time?

Ruud says that Djokovic’s clay-court prowess cannot be underestimated.

“You can definitely argue that he's the second-best clay court player of all time,” he said. “I mean, obviously Borg has more titles here than him, but Novak was always close, he always pretty much reached the final and ended up losing to Rafa. And I lost to him last year in the final.”

The seventh-seeded Norwegian, who leads all ATP players in wins on clay since the start of 2020, says that Djokovic has all the tools to make a well-rounded, unstoppable clay-court player.

“I think that he reads the game unbelievably well. He knows how to use a dropshot well. Obviously he moves great. So it's tough to hit winners on him.”

And don’t underestimate the Serbian’s physicality, stamina and durability, Ruud says.

“Physically he's there. He's strong. He never breaks down in a way. You feel sometimes that he will, but he never does. I think he's shown that the last two matches playing over four hours and looking kind of down and out but coming back.

“I didn't see much of what happened today, but I heard that he was down and even down a break in the fourth and came back from there. So he rises to the challenge whenever he needs to.

I mean, he has all the shots. I mean, he doesn't play as heavy maybe as Rafa and the extreme topspin, but he doesn't need to. He has other qualities that are almost just as good.”