Wimbledon.com's thoughts on the men's singles final as Rafael Nadal defeated David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to win a record eighth Roland Garros men's singles crown.
There were those who feared Rafael Nadal might not ever play tennis again. There were those who thought that even if he did, he might never recover his former world-beating form. But on Sunday in Paris, winning his seventh title in nine tournaments in 2013, the 26-year-old proved yet again that all of us were wrong.
His straight-sets defeat of compatriot David Ferrer was far tenser and nervy than the 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 scoreline suggests, but even with that, even with a protestor gaining access to the court, even with the intermittent weather, even with Ferrer's tenacious effort, Nadal never truly looked like losing this match, arguably the one that this comeback has been all about. In so doing, he claimed his eighth Roland Garros singles title, becoming the first man to win eight Grand Slam titles at the same event.
Exchanging breaks with his fellow Spaniard early in the first set, Nadal rallied to break for a third time and serve out the set 6-3. He relaxed in the second, taking Ferrer's serve off him at the first attempt, before a brief interruption as a protestor had to be quietened in the upper stands. Shortly afterwards, another protestor gained vaulted a flower bed to gain access to the court while brandishing a flare. Although he was quickly apprehended by security guards, the disturbance changed the mood on the Chatrier court, but Nadal recovered to take the second set, and break early in the third. By that point, even impending rain couldn't prevent him maintaing his hold, and he struck a clean forehand winner on his first match point to win the title.
Lying flat on his back on the Parisian clay for the eighth time, Nadal's record at Roland Garros is unparalleled. Nine years, eight titles, 59 wins, one loss.
Ferrer, although no doubt bitterly disappointed that his first Grand Slam final had not gone his way, was his usual understated self.
“Rafael has the best mentality I’ve ever seen in my career,” Ferrer said. “He has everything, no? He can play aggressive, at the net, and physically (he is) unbelievable. He can play five sets two days ago and today he can play similar tennis.”
“Of course, one always has the feeling afterwards that one could have played better,” he concluded. “But when the opponent is more steady or consistent, you have to accept it. I suppose in the future I'll have to try and improve. That's why I work day in and day out. I hope that I'll play another Grand Slam final. Last year for the first time I won a Masters 1000, and I've made progress. Now I've reached the final of a Grand Slam. I hope I will continue.”
He should go and talk to Andy Murray. He'd tell him to keep continuing.
Nadal meanwhile, who heads to Disneyland on Monday for his traditional visit, will travel back to Majorca with an eighth replica of the Coupe des Mousquetaires in tow. But more importantly, another goal achieved.
"Sport without a goal is stupid," he said simply, when asked to explain what makes him the competitor that he is.
Now for the next one.
Also at Roland Garros
There was agony for world No.1s Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani, whose ebullient form on court and off has garnered the Italian duo many fans. But the in-form pair were upset by Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who claimed their first Grand Slam doubles title together, winning 7-5, 6-2.
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20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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