The teacher defeated the student, as the most prolific French Open winner of all-time clinched another title at Roland Garros. Rafael Nadal beat Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 to lift his 14th French Open title. Ruud had witnessed Nadal light up this court first hand as a 13-year-old fan, and had spent time at Nadal’s academy as a young prospect. Now he has shared a Grand Slam final with the 36-year-old, who also becomes the oldest male winner of the tournament with this victory.
Nadal started strongly, dictating terms and looking as comfortable at the baseline as he did at the net. The iconic Spaniard broke Ruud’s first serve, and despite finding himself broken back, raced to a 4-1 lead. His young opponent showed signs of life, making the aging star move around the court more than was comfortable. But Nadal held his nerve, and his serve, to win the set 6-3.
The first game of the second set saw Ruud facing two break points before eventually holding his serve. Ruud took it to 3-1 in his best spell of the match so far. Nadal soon recovered his composure though and eased into proceedings. A drop shot along the line brought a standing ovation from the Roland Garros faithful, as they began to sense they were seeing a great champion at his best. Nadal racked up five games in a row to take the set 6-3, in just the latest example of him making this famous clay court his own.
Truly in his rhythm now, Nadal continued to rack up game after game. Ruud’s race was run, and he could do little to stop the modern great at this point. Nadal dropped just eight points across a magnificent third set, winning every game on the way to a 6-0 triumph. Nadal closed out the match winning a remarkable eleven games in a row.
The injuries Nadal has suffered created doubt over how many more moments like this there would be in his wonderful career. But he has lifted a 22nd Grand Slam title, and doing so in a competition that has meant so much to him will have made the triumph extra special. Legends are often not truly appreciated until they go. If you have any affection for the game of tennis at all, you owe it to yourself to absorb every single performance Rafael Nadal gives us before his time in the sport is at an end.