The Balearic overwhelms the Norwegian Ruud in the Roland Garros final, making his legend bigger and adding his 22nd Grand Slam, two more than Federer and Djokovic
On June 5, 2005, against Mariano Puerta, Rafa Nadal won his first Grand Slam, his first Roland Garros. 17 years later, very little has changed. He no longer wears the cut sleeves, nor the usual pirate pants in his youth, but he is still invincible. He is now a 36-year-old man with the entire history of tennis behind him. A tennis player who has defied logic, medicine and his own sport for each year to overcome a record that was impossible to improve.
It was unprecedented for someone to win nine titles in the same Grand Slam. And ten. And eleven. And twelve. and thirteen. And it will be on fourteen, until he himself achieves fifteen. And if he doesn't get it, it will be insurmountable anyway, because Nadal and Roland Garros is the most beautiful story in tennis, the best romance ever written. That one that has no end and that lived one more chapter this June 5, 17 years after the first, when Nadal beat Casper Ruud (6-3, 6-3 and 6-0) and won the fourteenth title in Paris and the twentieth second Grand Slam overall.
The man from Manacor puts even more advantage over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who remain with 20, two away from Nadal, and also becomes the longest-lived tennis player to win the title in Paris, surpassing the mark of his compatriot Andrés Gimeno, who won in 1972 at the age of 34 years and ten months.
His first bite of the trophy came minutes before the two contenders even took to the track. While the public warmed up, Ruud and Nadal waited in the locker room tunnel. The Norwegian, stunned by the situation, adjusted his clothes, the last touches before all the cameras confronted him in the task that no one in history has achieved: Win a final against Nadal at Roland Garros. The Balearic, meanwhile, was already like a locomotive. Up and down the hall, hitting jumps, sprints. The Norwegian's gaze was the same expression of terror as that of a fan in a bullring upon seeing the animal unleashed.
And any hope the Norwegian had that this was just a facade disappeared as soon as the match began. Nadal, with one eye on the sky, faced with the threat of a rain that never came, uncovered his torrent of tennis against a Ruud pressed against the back of the court and constantly punished on his backhand, his weakest shot.
The Spaniard, perfect in tactics, pushed him towards that blow and barely let him connect the right, where the Oslo man is more skilled. Games started to drop and Ruud only got hooked again after a Nadal game with two double faults and two other gross errors.
But on clay the 'breaks' are normal and Nadal did not mislead them neither the break he suffered in the first set, closed by a convincing 6-3, nor the one that placed him 1-3 down in the second. Ruud, with serve for 1-4, saw what has almost never happened in history. Nadal had only lost seven sets in the thirteen finals he has played in Paris. And not even with Ruud's advantage did the eighth come.
Nadal won the next five games, taking the second set 6-3 and not losing a single game. The third set was proof that if Ruud had any chance of winning this match it was much more than remote, that beating Nadal at Roland Garros is up to very few -only two in history, in fact- and that the This Sunday's story was about the Spanish's fourteenth title, not his first. “I am just one more victim, many others have suffered what I have before,” Ruud admitted.
Third 'rosco' in a final
With a backhand to the line, Nadal certified his third 'donut' in a Roland Garros final, after the one he hit Federer in 2008 and the one he nailed Djokovic in 2020, and added one more title to the best record in the greats in the history of this sport. Fourteen Roland Garros, two Wimbledons, two Australian Opens and four US Opens. With 22 majors, she not only distances herself from Federer and Djokovic, she also equals Steffi Graf's 22 titles and is one behind Serena Williams, who has 23, and two behind Margaret Court, who added 24.
The record of the best athlete in the history of Spain, of this sport and in the Olympus of sport in general. At 36 years old and when 20 days ago he left Rome limping. Raphael is incredible.