March 29, 2023
Rafael Nadal Wins His 22nd Grand Slam
 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the final match against Norway’s Casper Ruud in three sets at the French Open tennis tournament.

PARIS, France — Rafael Nadal Wins Roland Garros by cruising to victory over Casper Ruud in the French Open final 6-3, 6-3, 6-0, winning the tournament for the 14th time and the 22nd time overall at the Grand Slam event.

Two days after his 36th birthday, Rafael Nadal became the oldest clay-court champion in the tournament’s history, making him the greatest clay-court player of all time.

Ruud held a 3-1 lead in the second set, but Nadal rallied to win the final 11 games.

Nadal played with such precision and control that he won 37 games to Ruud’s 16. Also, Nadal had a lower number of unforced errors than Ruud, with just 16 compared to 26.

When the match finished with a backhand down the line, Nadal threw his racket on the red clay and buried his face with the taped fingers on both his hands.

The 19-year-old Spaniard’s first victory in Paris occurred in 2005. He is the first player in history to win the singles title in a major tournament 14 times. And Rafael Nadal has won more Grand Slam tournaments than anyone else.

Novak Djokovic, who missed the Australian Open in January because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and lost to Nadal at Roland Garros, and Roger Federer, who hasn’t played in over a year due to a series of knee procedures, trail Nadal by two sets.

In light of his age and the severe pain in his left foot that has plagued him for years, Nadal has said repeatedly in recent days that each match at Court Philippe Chatrier might be his last.

Even yet, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of an excuse for him to give up now, given his four French Open opponents in the top 10 (No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round, No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the semifinals, and then No. 8 Ruud).

Nadal increased his Roland Garros record to 14-0 in finals and 112-3 overall.

With what he’s already accomplished, Nadal has now accomplished something he’s never done before: He has already won the Australian Open and the French Open in the same calendar year, putting him halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam.

The 23-year-old Norwegian Ruud was playing in his first Grand Slam final. The first time he had ever competed in a significant quarterfinal was here.

His idol is Rafael Nadal. He distinctly remembers watching all of Rafael Nadal’s previous Paris finals on television. He received his training at Rafael Nadal’s Mallorca tennis academy.

With nothing except bragging rights at stake, they’ve played countless practice sets together at the same time there. Ruud joked about the other day when he said that Nadal generally wins those because he’s trying to be a nice guest.

A title was at stake on Sunday, and the two had never faced each other in a meaningful competition before then. And Nadal proved once again why he is renowned as the King of Clay — and one of the best players in the history of the Tennis.

From 2005-08, 2010-14, and 2017-20, he can now add the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy to his collection at Roland Garros. He’s also a four-time U.S. Open champion, and he’s won Wimbledon and the Australian Open twice each.

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