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 definitely no fakery concerned final month when he limped and grimaced by means of the ultimate set of an early-round defeat on the Italian Open and seemed significantly weary of the grind and the persistent 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 pink clay for Nadal. And on Sunday, after working his method by means of a loaded prime half of the draw, he was a lot an excessive amount of, even at lower than his greatest, for the No. 8 seed Casper Ruud within the French Open males’s closing, profitable 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 report 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 report 22 Grand Slam singles titles, two greater than Djokovic, whom Nadal beat within the quarterfinals right here, and Federer, who at age 40 remains to be recovering from his latest 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, definitely 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 12 months, has had two important function 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 commonly together with his crew at Nadal’s tennis academy in Majorca, Spain, in 2018 and even performed — and misplaced — apply units towards Nadal.
He additionally has performed golf with Nadal, pondering he was in for a relaxed expertise solely to find that Nadal’s aggressive streak was not restricted to the tennis courtroom.
But Sunday was Ruud’s first probability to face Nadal on tour.
“To play Rafa in a Roland Garros closing might be the best problem there may be on this sport,” Ruud stated.
And that was earlier than the ultimate. He certainly has not modified his thoughts now.