PARIS — He fooled us once more, which is, in itself, fairly a feat at this stage of the sport.
Perhaps Rafael Nadal actually means it when he talks down his probabilities at Roland Garros, and there was actually no fakery concerned final month when he limped and grimaced via the ultimate set of an early-round defeat on the Italian Open and regarded significantly weary of the grind and the power ache in his left foot.
Nadal did certainly discover himself in unfamiliar territory as he returned to his favourite stomping floor of Roland Garros. He was very brief on clay-court matches and with none European clay-court titles this season because the match started.
But there isn’t any tonic fairly like Parisian purple clay for Nadal. And on Sunday, after working his method via a loaded prime half of the draw, he was a lot an excessive amount of, even at lower than his finest, for the No. 8 seed Casper Ruud within the French Open males’s closing, successful 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in a match that lasted 2 hours and 18 minutes.
The victory secured Nadal his 14th males’s singles title on the match, extending a French Open document that appears extra unbeatable with each passing spring.
He additionally prolonged his lead within the three-way majors race with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Nadal now has a males’s document 22 Grand Slam singles titles, two greater than Djokovic, whom Nadal beat within the quarterfinals right here, and Federer, who at age 40 continues to be recovering from his newest knee surgical procedure.
Sunday’s triumph, with Billie Jean King and King Felipe VI of Spain in attendance, additionally made Nadal, at 36, the oldest man to win the French Open, surpassing his compatriot Andrés Gimeno, who gained the title in 1972 at age 34.
So many data. So a lot enduring excellence, and Ruud, an affable 23-year-old Norwegian, actually wanted no reminder of his opponent’s achievements as he walked into the Philippe Chatrier Court as the primary Norwegian man to play in a Grand Slam singles closing.
Ruud, who broke into the highest 10 final year, has had two primary position fashions as he emerged from a nation higher recognized for excelling on snow than on clay. There was his father, Christian, who coached him and was tour-level participant ranked as excessive as No. 39 in 1995. And there was Nadal, together with his excessive topspin forehand and hard-wired combativeness.
He started coaching often together with his workforce at Nadal’s tennis academy in Majorca, Spain, in 2018 and even performed — and lost — observe units towards Nadal.
He additionally has performed golf with Nadal, considering he was in for a relaxed expertise solely to find that Nadal’s aggressive streak was not restricted to the tennis court docket.
But Sunday was Ruud’s first likelihood to face Nadal on tour.
“To play Rafa in a Roland Garros final is probably the greatest challenge there is in this sport,” Ruud stated.
And that was earlier than the ultimate. He absolutely has not modified his thoughts now.