Alexander Zverev vs Casper Ruud French Open Odds, Pick | Expert Preview

Alexander Zverev vs Casper Ruud French Open Odds, Pick | Expert Preview article feature image

DeFodi Images/Getty. Pictured: Casper Ruud.

 Zverev vs Ruud Odds

Zverev Odds-115
 Ruud Odds-105
Over/Under39.5 (-115 / -105)
Time | How to WatchFriday, 12 p.m. ET | Peacock
Odds via DraftKings. For tips on how to watch the French Open, click here.

A season ago, Alexander Zverev suffered a gruesome ankle injury on Court Phillipe-Chatrier that put a very promising rise back to the top of the men's game on hold. After a very shaky beginning to his 2023 season, no one could have expected the German would be in the semifinals here at the French Open, yet here we are.

With Zverev finding his form on the clay this year and tearing through the field here in Paris, he seems poised to make his second career Grand Slam final. Will he be stopped by last year's French Open finalist, Casper Ruud?

Let's dig into this French Open semifinal.

Zverev Back to World Class Form

I'm being generous when I say Zverev's start to the season was shaky. The German had a hard time trusting his movement following ankle surgery, and his double fault woes quickly returned. This version of Zverev is unrecognizable from that one, and he seems to be right back to where he was a season ago. He's serving incredibly well, crushing his two-handed backhand and even put on a volleying exhibition in Wednesday's win over Tomas Etcheverry.

Zverev hasn't had the hardest road to the semis, but it also may be that he made it look quite easy. Frances Tiafoe and Grigor Dimitrov had been playing excellent tennis up until their matches with the World No. 27, and Etcheverry also played the best tennis of his career here in Paris. In fact, I thought Zverev faced a very good level on Wednesday which should have him in a good position to win on Friday.

For the unfamiliar, Zverev is pretty much everything you would want a tennis player to be. He's a giant at 6'6", pumping in a massive first serve with a huge two-handed backhand. While some can rival the speed on his first delivery, the thing that sets the German apart is the number of first serves he's able to land in a given match. The only thing that's kept him from achieving more in his career has been his mental fortitude, though he did make great strides in that department last year prior to his injury.

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Ruud Untested Up to Semifinals

The Norwegian has once again sleepwalked to a Grand Slam semifinal. After facing no competition through three matches, Ruud did well to come through a dangerous Nicolas Jarry before he was essentially gift-wrapped the first two sets of his quarterfinal against Holger Rune. Even then, he made a meal of the match by tightening up in the third and blowing four match points in the fourth before ultimately winning.

Ruud's historically been a great player on clay, and has won more matches on the surface than anyone since 2020. He struggled to find his form this year on the hard courts, and even when the calendar turned to clay season Ruud's bad losses still piled up. It remains unclear how well he's playing at this moment in time, particularly given he hasn't faced a world class player like Zverev.

His heavy topspin forehand makes him a menace on the clay, and he's spent the last couple of seasons increasing the speed on his first serve. It's made him one of the 15 best players in the world without question, but you could argue that at no point during his two Slam final runs last year did he face anyone as good as Zverev. I'm not here to say Ruud is a bad player by any means, nor am I here to say he's anything less than a great player. When we begin to put him up against the likes of Zverev, though, I think the answer becomes murky.

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Zverev vs Ruud Pick

These two have met four times, with Zverev taking the first three matches. They've never met on a clay court, though, so it's very hard to use the history between these two to predict the outcome here.

One thing that I think will be catastrophic for Ruud, however, is his backhand. The shot has long been his greatest weakness, and while he's improved it drastically in the last two seasons it still lacks any sort of pace. He loops it back into the court, sitting up for his opponents to drive. Against shorter players, it can actually be effective, but against the 6'6" Zverev I think it'll be swallowed up.

Zverev's two-handed backhand is one of the best weapons on tour, and that loopy Ruud backhand will bounce right up into his strike zone. Even off the forehand wing, Ruud's topspin should always present Zverev with a ball he can crush.

I wasn't very impressed with Ruud in his win over Rune. He should have been in the locker room inside of two hours but tensed up. It's very hard to rate that win over a tired opponent, and even his victory over Jarry came against a man who had played an incredible amount of tennis in the last few weeks.

I'm not totally convinced Zverev is at the height of his powers right now, but I do think he's playing well enough to get past Ruud. I think he will expose his backhand and fight through some nerves before taking this one in what should be an entertaining four-set match.

Pick: Zverev ML (-115)

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