Casper Ruud answers if 2024 Novak Djokovic is 'different' after first win over Serb

Ruud upset Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters semifinal for his first win over the Serb in their sixth match.

by Dzevad Mesic
Casper Ruud answers if 2024 Novak Djokovic is 'different' after first win over Serb
© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Casper Ruud acknowledged it feels that something is "a little bit different" in Novak Djokovic's game this year after upsetting the Serb in the Monte Carlo Masters.

Ruud, seeded at No. 8, defeated Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4 in the Monte Carlo Masters semifinal. For Ruud, it was his first win over Djokovic after ending on the losing side in each of their first five meetings. 

Also, this was yet another tournament in 2024 where Djokovic suffered a disappointing loss and failed to make the final. Following a loss to Ruud, Djokovic is now 11-4 this season, having previously also lost to Alex de Minaur, Jannik Sinner and Luca Nardi.

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of talk about Djokovic's form and game at the start of the season, with some even going as far as claiming that the record 24-time Grand Slam champion is "done." 

In Monte Carlo, Djokovic showed some promising signs after winning his opening three matches in straight sets but then his 2024 woes returned against Ruud. 

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Ruud on if he saw some differences in Djokovic's game 

After beating Djokovic for the first time, Ruud was asked if he saw some differences in the Serb's game. When answering that question, 25-year-old Ruud also admitted that he had in his mind the losses that Djokovic previously suffered in the year. 

"Yeah, a little bit. Obviously Novak is Novak. He's human. Sometimes he doesn't seem like it, but he is like everyone else," Ruud said.

"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."

Casper Ruud and Novak Djokovic
Casper Ruud and Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Ruud gets candid on how much it means for him to beat Djokovic

In the past, Ruud had some pretty difficult losses against Djokovic. Most notably, Ruud suffered a three-set loss to Djokovic in last year's French Open final - a loss that put his record in Grand Slam finals to 0-3. Also, Ruud was beaten by Djokovic in the 2022 ATP Finals final.

But on Saturday in Monte Carlo, Ruud managed to finally make a breakthrough against Djokovic.

When the match started, Ruud came out firing as she claimed breaks in the first and fifth games before serving out for the first set in the 10th game. Down by a set, Djokovic responded as he broke Ruud in the second and sixth games en route to easily winning the second set and forcing a decider.

Ruud bounced back at the start of the third set, earning an early break and a 3-0 lead. Djokovic managed to get the break back in the seventh game but Ruud kept his focus and broke the Serb again in the 10th game - the game in which the world No. 1 was serving to stay in the match. 

When asked about his first win over Djokovic, the 25-year-old Norwegian said that was something he would his grandkids about.

Casper Ruud
Casper Ruud © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

"It's fantastic. You know, it's, in my eyes, one of the all-time players to try to beat. Today I was able to do it. Something I can remember for the rest of my life and tell hopefully my kids in the future and my grandkids when I'm getting old that, you know, I beat Novak one time at least," Ruud said.

"Yeah, it's a fantastic feeling. Obviously I hope I can play more times before -- you know, no one knows how long he plans to play for, but obviously he's getting older, but he's still physically in good shape and playing fantastic tennis. But it's always fun to play against him, because, you know, it's one of the toughest challenges in our sport.

"I'm very super proud and happy to overcome it today."

Casper Ruud Novak Djokovic Monte Carlo Masters