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Ruud is through to his third Grand Slam final in his past five tournaments. He was runner-up to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in 2022 and then lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open final.
The 24-year-old Ruud broke Zverev six times as the Olympic champion's French Open run ended in the semi-finals for the third time in a row.
"I just went out there and tried to play without thinking too much, trying to play without pressure, and just played really well today," said Ruud, whose 87 wins on clay are the most since 2020.
Ruud has had a challenging year and arrived in Paris with an underwhelming 16-11 record.
The fourth-ranked Ruud has never won a set against Djokovic in four meetings, although this will be their first match-up at a major.
"I didn't come into Roland Garros thinking I was the favourite to reach the final. It's been two very fun weeks in Paris and hopefully third time can be a charm for me," he said.
For Zverev, it was another bitter finish on the same court where he suffered season-ending ankle ligament damage in his semi-final against Nadal 12 months ago.