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Ruud, 23, became the first Norwegian man to reach a Grand Slam singles final with a victory, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, over No. 20 Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion who has been resurgent in Paris at age 33.
The match was interrupted for about 15 minutes when a young protester attached herself to the net during the sixth game of the third set. In a statement, the French Tennis Federation said that “the security team needed to formally identify the objects she used to get onto the court before they could remove her.”
Both players left the court, but when they returned, Ruud, the more natural clay-court master, maintained control as Cilic’s unforced-error count kept climbing.
It will be the first meeting on tour for Ruud and Nadal, but they know each other well. Ruud has trained regularly at Nadal’s academy in Mallorca for several years, and Nadal has been his inspiration for his skill, sportsmanship and combative spirit.
“He’s been my idol for all my life,” said Ruud, who has played numerous practice sets with Nadal.
Asked how many of Nadal’s 13 French Open finals he had watched, he replied, “probably all of them,” reeling off the names of most of his opponents.
Ruud, whose father and coach, Christian, is a former professional player, had not been past the fourth round in a Grand Slam tournament until now. He rose into the top 10 last year for the first time on the strength of his victories in regular tour events.
But he took full advantage of his spot in the more welcoming bottom half of the men’s draw in this French Open and now will try to do what no man has ever managed defeat Nadal in a French Open final.