PARIS — He fooled us once more, which is, in itself, fairly a feat at this stage of the sport.
Maybe 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 way of the ultimate set of an early-round defeat on the Italian Open and regarded notably weary of the grind and the continual 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.
However there isn’t a tonic fairly like Parisian crimson clay for Nadal. And on Sunday, after working his method by way 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 last, 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 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. 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 Courtroom as the primary Norwegian man to play in a Grand Slam singles last.
Ruud, who broke into the highest 10 final 12 months, had two essential position fashions as he emerged from a nation higher identified for glorious 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, along with his excessive topspin forehand and hard-wired combativeness.
He started coaching frequently along with his workforce 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, considering he was in for a relaxed expertise solely to find that Nadal’s aggressive streak was not restricted to the tennis court docket.
However Sunday was Ruud’s first likelihood to face Nadal on tour.
“To play Rafa in a Roland Garros last might be the best problem there may be on this sport,” Ruud mentioned.
And that was earlier than the ultimate. He has certainly not modified his thoughts now.